NFL Pro Bowl Format

The NFL Pro Bowl is the league’s all-star game that takes place the weekend before the Super Bowl each year. The game used to happen at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii, before being relocated to Orlando, Florida, in 2017. Starting in 2021, the Pro Bowl is played in Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada. Read on to learn more about the NFL Pro Bowl Format.

Traditional Format

For the majority of the years the NFL Pro Bowl has taken place, the two teams have been divided based on the league’s two conferences: the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC).

On each team, a full roster is built including every position of a regular NFL game. For the offensive side, there are quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, tackles, guards, and centers. On the defensive side, there are defensive ends, interior linemen, linebackers, cornerbacks, and safeties. For special teams, each team has a kicker, punter, returner, and a long snapper.

All NFL players are eligible to make one of the Pro Bowl teams. However, if players from either of the two Super Bowl teams are selected to the Pro Bowl, they are not allowed to participate and are replaced by runner up players.

Format Changes

In 2013, the NFL decided to try out a new format for the Pro Bowl. Instead of separating the two teams based on league conferences, predetermined team captains were allowed to draft players to their teams from the list of players selected to participate in the game. The team captains were notorious NFL alumni including Cris Carter, Deion Sanders, Jerry Rice, and Michael Irvin. When the Pro Bowl was moved to Orlando in 2017, the format switched back to the original AFC vs. NFC format.

Due to concerns over the format providing an entertaining game for fans, the NFL has decided to change the format of the Pro Bowl. Starting in 2023, the Pro Bowl will be called the “Pro Bowl Games,” which will look more like a skills competition than a traditional football game. The “Pro Bowl Games” will also feature a flag football game between the AFC and NFC.

Pro Bowl Voting

Being selected to the NFL Pro Bowl is a big honor for football players, as it proves that they are among the best players in the game. Making it to the Pro Bowl also builds reputation in the league, which can lead to potential contract and endorsement opportunities.

Throughout the season, players are evaluated based on their performance. Near the end of the season, voting takes place to determine what players make the Pro Bowl. In the second part of the NFL season, fans have the opportunity to vote for players that they believe deserve to make the game.

Fan votes account for one third of the total vote decision and usually last until the last week of the regular season. The other two thirds of the voting are allocated to coaches and players. These votes are submitted after fan voting closes. In most years, the Pro Bowl rosters are finalized by the middle of December.

Special Rules

Since the game is played for fun at the end of the season, the Pro Bowl has special rules that differ from a traditional NFL game to protect players from injury. One of these rules is that kickoffs are not allowed during the game. This prevents players from running at full speed down the field towards one another.

Another rule is the elimination of intentional grounding for quarterbacks. This means that the quarterback can throw the ball away at any time, regardless if they are inside the pocket or if there is any receiver in the area of the pass. By removing this rule, quarterbacks can get rid of the ball and avoid being sacked during any point in the game.

Finally, only defensive linemen can rush the quarterback on passing plays. Therefore, the defense is not allowed to blitz. This prevents too many players from going after the quarterback at a time.

Formation Rules

In addition to player safety rules, there are some additional rules involving legal formations at the Pro Bowl. For the offensive team, they must line up in a standard formation and must remain in that formation without motion before the snap of the ball. In addition, a team can not utilize a formation where there are more than two wide receivers or three total eligible receivers to one side of the ball.

On the defensive side, the players must line up in a standard 4-3 formation (four linemen and three linebackers). Additionally, the defensive team must have four total defensive backs on each play.

FAQ

Where is the NFL Pro Bowl played?

The NFL Pro Bowl is played at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada. Allegiant Stadium is home to the Las Vegas Raiders. The NFL Pro Bowl was previously played in Hawaii and Orlando, Florida, before being moved to Las Vegas.

What is the Pro Bowl Skills Showdown?

The Pro Bowl Skills Showdown is a series of events that takes place during the week before the Pro Bowl game. Players from both conferences volunteer to compete and help their respective teams win. Each team is made up of 10 pro bowlers including two quarterbacks, one running back, two wide receivers/tight ends, three linemen/linebackers, and two defensive backs. In 2020, the competitions included precision passing, gridiron gauntlet, best hands, thread the needle, and epic pro bowl dodgeball.