pro bowl in football

What Is A Pro Bowl In Football

You’ve probably had players with 10-Pro Bowl selections. Ever wondered how they get them?

It’s a game taking place every year on the weekend just before the Super Bowls finals. Who are these stars playing in the game? What exactly is a Pro Bowl in football?

Pro Bowl football is an all-star game of the NFL. It’s a game that merges stars from the American Football League, AFC and the National Football Conference. It is commonly referred to as the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl and matches top players from the two conferences.

Simply put, a pro bowler is a player that has been selected to play in the Pro Bowl all-star game of the NFL. At each Pro Bowl level, there are 86 players chosen. Here, 43 players are from the AFC, while 43 are for the NFC.

A further breakdown of the players on each side gives us 21 offensive players, 18 defensive players and four special teamers.

So what is the history of the Pro Bowl? How are players selected? Keep reading below to learn more.

History Of Pro Bowl

The history of the Pro Bowl dates back to as early as 1939, when the first ever all-star Pro Bowl game was played. It featured stars from the 1938 season. There were also three players from the Hollywood Bears and Los Angeles Bulldogs who were not members of the league.

The game version was totally different from what we have today. It featured winners of the previous Super Bowl against NFL stars from the different teams in the league.

The New York Giants won the first-ever pro Bowl. More Pro Bowl games would occur in consecutive years before restrictions in World War Two put a stop to them. In the first all-star Pro Bowls, the Super Bowl champions won the first four, with the all-stars winning the 5th.

The new Pro Bowl concept started in the 1950s when rules changed, pitting the AFC and NFC all-stars. The AFC stars went on and beat the NFC stars 28-27. Cleveland quarterback Otto Graham was named the first Pro Bowl MVP.

The Pro Bowl has since evolved with changes over the years to make the game more exciting and attractive. In 2017, the Pro Bowl took place outside the US. It took place in Brazil at the Maracana stadium. There are plans by the NFL to take the game to other countries in the future.

Due to covid restrictions, the 2021 Pro Bowl was canceled. Currently, the Pro Bowl is played a week before the Super Bowl and involves all-star teams from the AFC and NFC.

How Do Pro Bowl Work?

The Pro Bowl works through stages, starting with player selection. Not every player in the NFL is going to get selected. In the next section, I’ll explain in detail how Pro Bowl players are selected.

football player in the field at night

In the meantime, let’s take a closer look at how the Pro Bowl works. First, the Pro Bowl is officially called the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl and involves star players from the two conferences.

In total, 86 players are selected, with 43 for each team. There are 18 players for the defense and 21 for the offense giving a total of 39. Special teamers take the four remaining players for each team.

Unlike the MLB All-Star and NBA-All-star that play mid-season, the Pro Bowl is played after the regular season. The main reason is to avoid injuries during the mid-season.

The AFC-NFC Pro Bowl continues to change and adapt over the years, with player injury a major concern for teams. Unlike in the past, where all players would go to Hawaii after the Super Bowl, venues are now changing yearly, just like the Super Bowl.

There are new rules in the Pro Bowl intended to prevent player injuries. Offense quarterbacks can throw a ball anytime to avoid sacks without getting an intentional grounding penalty.

Blitzes are also off-limits in the defense, with only the lineman allowed to rush at the quarterback. A recent change is the “Spot and Choose” rule, where there are no kickoffs during the game. Instead, a winner of the opening toss of the coin chooses the start from either the offense or defense at a specific spot.

However, the team determining the spot must announce where the ball will be placed on the field.

The Pro Bowl is considered a much softer game than the regular NFL games. There is also a lack of stars from the two teams playing in the Super Bowl finals. 

Overall, the Pro Bowls continue to have the following good, considering it plays a week before the Super Bowl. Many changes are still being implemented to make it more exciting for fans.

Having said all that, let’s see how players get selected.

How Are The Pro Bowl Players Selected

Players’ selection is through a voting process.

The voting process involves the fans, the coaches and the players themselves. In total, the three group’s votes give a third of the votes. Total votes are then added together to select star players from each conference.

However, not all players are voted. Certain conditions must be met. First, the player must have been initially selected for the team to accept an invitation as an alternate in the Pro Bowl. 

Selected players must not be members of the teams advancing into the Super Bowl finals.

Fans Voting

The fans vote online through the NFL website. When voting, fans need to select players for different positions in football.

Player/Coach Voting

Once fans have voted, the coaches and players make the third part of the voting.

coach using gadgets in communication

Every player and coach in the NFL will vote for their choice of player to participate in the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl.

This voting takes place once the fan voting is finished. Players from the two teams advancing to the Super Bowl finals are replaced by alternate players.

Pro Bowl Rule Difference

The rules in the Pro Bowl are slightly different from the NFL for player protection. Pro Bowl games are considered soft games with very limited contact. Most teams are wary of their star players suffering injuries.

Tackling and Intentional Grounding

First, it’s important to note that there is no official policy against tackling. However, players tend to have a gentleman’s agreement to have very little, if any, contact.

Unlike in the regular season, the ball carrier will give up pretty fast as soon as the defense catches him. If he doesn’t give up, he will likely go out of bounds to avoid contact. There are some considerations to ban future tackling in Pro Bowls.

Apart from the little or no tackling, the Pro Bowl features some very different rules. Holding a passer a kicker, a holder, or a rushing punter is not allowed. Blindsides and below waist blocks also not allowed. But intentional grounding is legal.


Additionally, the offense can have up to 3 receivers one side, with all formations in the offense having a tight end and running back. Teams start from the 25-yard line after every score.

Furthermore, teams that want to retain possession after kicking are allowed a single run start at 25 yards from the line of scrimmage. If the ball advances past 15 yards, they retain possession. But there are no punts with teams taking fair catches.

In case of referee mistakes, replay reviews are legal. Forward passes are also allowed, but there are no freekicks and kickoffs. Teams also list up to 44 players on the roster and have the clock run at 35 seconds on run plays.

Game Time

Apart from the two minutes in the half and overtime, the game’s clock runs on completion. Deep safeties in Pro Bowl must be aligned to hash marks with a coin toss determining the team that receives a first.

Additionally, wide receivers can flinch or raise a foot without a penalty. The defense needs to run a 4-3 at all times. Blitzes and tackles are also not allowed. The offense should also not move with just one forward pass allowed in the same play.

Well, these are some of the main rule differences from the regular NFL games. If teams happen to play a tie after the regular time, they are allowed 15 minutes of overtime.

In the first overtime, each team is allowed possession to score. The rule is not considered if one of the teams scores a safety. Whe such happens, the sudden death rules apply.

american football referee

Overall, the Pro Bowl is considered a final and a tie is not allowed. However, unlike regular season games, whoever scores first in the first overtime wins. It’s worth noting that the first overtime in the Pro Bowl starts in the same manner as the games start in the NFL.

Who Won More Pro Bowls

Different players have been called to the Pro Bowls several times. Some players are current and with another chance to play in another Pro Bowls. But which player has won more Pro Bowls in their career?

New England quarterback Tom Brady is actively playing and has been selected to the Pro Bowls 15 times. He tops the list of the most Pro Bowls selections.

Second, on the list are four players who have made an appearance 14 times. These players are Peyton Manning, Tony Gonzalez, Bruce Mathews, and Merlin Olsen.

Other players with 12 and 13 Pro Bowl selections are Drew Brees, Ken Houston, Reggie White, Randall MacDaniel, Jerry Rice, Ray Lewis, Jim Otto, Will Shields and Junior Seau.

How Much Do NFL Players Make For the Pro Bowl

Win or lose, players participating in the NFL are paid some good money. Whether they win or lose, every player who participates gets paid. The NFL sets the prize money for the winning and losing teams. 

As for the 2022 Pro Bowl, the winning team’s prize money is $80,000, which is more than the losing team’s $75,000. However, the exact amount varies from year to year.

In the 2020 Pro Bowls, each player on the winning side was getting $70,000, while those on the losing side were getting $35,000. However, most of these players are star players on big contracts and not highly motivated by the money.

Some star players have Pro Bowls selection as part of their contracts, earning them more.

While these amounts seem huge, there are not that big for these stars who can make more in certain games. In the postseason, players can earn as much as $124,000 to as little as $24,000 on Wild Card weekends.

That’s probably why most of these players won’t care a lot about winning or losing. Furthermore, no team in the NFL wants their star players injured for pushing too hard.

Simply put, the NFL Pro Bowl is all about fun and entertainment for the fans. It’s a way for the fans to get to enjoy all their stars in a single game. It’s more like flag football for the players giving them just enough for a trip to Las Vegas.

Is The Pro Bowl The Super Bowl?

The Pro Bowl is not the same as the Super Bowl. These are two different football games. The Super Bowl is the Champions game and essentially the final game of the NFL season. A team that wins the Super Bowl is named the NFL season winner.

happy football player holding the ball

On the other hand, the Pro Bowl is an all-star game between the AFC all-stars and the NFC all-stars. It’s a game that brings stars from different teams in the league for an all-star game between two conferences.

What Is The Difference Between All-Pro and Pro Bowl

The difference between All-Pro and Pro Bowl is that the App Pro is selected by sports writers and the media, while the Pro Bowl players are selected by voting. 

Being on the All-Pro list is the greatest achievement for an NFL player. Different media members select a first All-Pro and a second All pro.

Pro Bowl players are selected by voting of the fans, players and coaches. Unlike All-Pro, Pro Bowl players are separated into two divisions and play a Pro Bowl match a weekend before the Super Bowl.

Who Gets To Play in the Pro Bowl?

Star players selected through a voting system from the fans, coaches and the players themselves get to play in the Pro Bowl.


The Pro Bowl is your chance to get to see your biggest stars on the single field. A Pro Bowl in football is an all-star game between the AFC and NFC that takes place a weekend before the Super Bowl finals. 

The star players are selected through a voting system from the fans, players, and coaches, with each group giving a third of the vote. However, the rules in the Pro Bowl are a little different, with players having less contact to avoid injuries.

Wide receivers in a Pro Bowl will give up once a defender gets contact as opposed to the NFL. It’s a game that has been played since 1939, giving fans a chance to see their stars close. However, some teams are wary of their star players getting injured, hence the minimal contact in the game.

I hope our post answers everything about a Pro Bowl in football.

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