The Pro Bowl occurs every year, a week after the Super Bowl. It is similar to an all-star game in other sports. It is played between the best in the NFC and the best in the AFC.

2001 AFC 38  NFC 17 
2000 NFC 51  AFC 31 
1999 AFC 23  NFC 10 
1998 AFC 29  NFC 24 
1997 AFC 26  NFC 23 (OT)
1996 NFC 20  AFC 13 
1995 AFC 41  NFC 13 
1994 NFC 17  AFC 3 
1993 AFC 23  NFC 20 (OT)
1992 NFC 21  AFC 15 
1991 AFC 23  NFC 21 
1990 NFC 27  AFC 21 
1989 NFC 34  AFC 3 
1988 AFC 15  NFC 6 
1987 AFC 10  NFC 6 
1986 NFC 28  AFC 24 
1985 AFC 22  NFC 14 
1984 NFC 45  AFC 3 
1983 NFC 20  AFC 19 
1982 AFC 16  NFC 13 
1981 NFC 21  AFC 7 
1980 NFC 37  AFC 27 
1979 NFC 13  AFC 7  
1978 NFC 14  AFC 13 
1977 AFC 24  NFC 14 
1976 NFC 23  AFC 20  
1975 NFC 17  AFC 10 
1974 AFC 15  NFC 13  
1973 AFC 33  NFC 28 
1972 AFC 26  NFC 13 
1971 NFC 27  NFC 6 *

* Played between NFC and NFC.  Not a typo.

Below is a list of the Most Valuable Player (MVP) from each Pro Bowl.

Year  Player              Team(Conference)

2001  Rich Gannon         Oakland Raiders (AFC) 
2000  Randy Moss          Minnesota Vikings (NFC) 
1999  Ty Law              New England Patriots (AFC)
      Keyshawn Johnson    New York Jets (AFC) 
1998  Warren Moon         Jacksonville Jaguars (AFC) 
1997  Mark Brunell        Jacksonville Jaguars (AFC
1996  Jerry Rice          San Francisco 49ers (NFC) 
1995  Marshall Faulk      Indianapolis Colts (AFC) 
1994  Andre Rison         Atlanta Falccons (NFC) 
1993  Steve Tasker        Buffalo Bills (AFC) 
1992  Michael Irvin       Dallas Cowboys (NFC) 
1991  Jim Kelly           Buffalo Bills (AFC) 
1990  Jerry Gray          Los Angeles Rams (NFC) 
1989  Randall Cunningham  Philadelphia Eagles (NFC) 
1988  Bruce Smith         Buffalo Bills (AFC) 
1987  Reggie White        Philadelphia Eagles (NFC) 
1986  Phil Simms          New York Giants (NFC) 
1985  Mark Gastineau      New York Jets (AFC) 
1984  Joe Thiesmann       Washington Redskins (NFC) 
1983  Dan Fouts           San Diego Chargers (AFC)    
      John Jefferson      Green Bay Packers (NFC) 
1982  Kellen Winslow      San Diego Chargers (AFC)
      Lee Roy Selmon      Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFC) 
1981  Eddie Murray        Detroit Lions (NFC) 
1980  Chuck Muncie        San Diego Chargers (AFC) 
1979  Ahmad Rashad        Minnesota Vikings (NFC) 
1978  Walter Payton       Chicago Bears (NFC) 
1977  Mel Blount          Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC) 
1976  Billy Johnson       Houston Oilers (AFC) 
1975  James Harris        Los Angeles Rams (NFC) 
1974  Garo Yepremian      Miami Dolphins (AFC) 
1973  O.J. Simpson        Buffalo Bills (AFC) 
1972  Jan Stenerud        Kansas City Chiefs (AFC) 
      Willie Lanier       Kansas City Chiefs (AFC) 
1971  Mel Renfro          Dallas Cowboys (NFC)
      Fred Carr           Green Bay Packers (NFC) 
Source: www.allsports.com

American football is a fascinating game. It has been described by the ignorant and uneducated as just a bunch of fat guys slamming into each other between beer commercials, but what it actually is is a beautiful game combining speed, brute strength, strategy, incredible skill, and resource management.

Resource management? Absolutely. For starters, teams (unlike in soccer) are all constrained to a salary cap, which means that major markets don't always win because they have the most money and therefore can afford all the best players. 

Also, because during the year injuries take their toll. Football is a brutal sport with injury a near-constant threat. The Seattle Seahawks faced the Atlanta Falcons two weeks or so ago with their most crucial defensive player out with a broken leg and cornerback Richard Sherman had sufficient injuries to his knee that the league is actually going to penalize the team for fielding a player who was that injured. (The Falcons won handily). Team doctors regularly patch these players up so they can work through inflammation, pain, injury and broken parts, but they're not Dungeons and Dragons style clerics able to cast healing spells. One of the reasons that the New England Patriots do so well is that they have enough depth on the field to compensate for a lost star player. Rob Gronkowski is out with a back injury, but they have a suitable backup.

Also, because of the nature of the draft - the teams that did the poorest get the first pick of incoming players, with the best teams picking last - there's a natural rise and fall to teams, but it also means that you can be drafted into and stay with a terrible team and never realize your full potential as a player. Ask the Falcons' Tony Gonzalez, one of the best players ever to play at his position, but who retired before the team climbed out of mediocrity.

So in theory, the Pro Bowl is an EVENT. What if, just what if, you took the very best players at each position regardless of team and had them play against each other? That would be a REAL draw in the lull between the end of the season and the Super Bowl.

In practice, well....

Firstly - players from the two Super Bowl bound teams don't play. Most often than not that means many of the best players aren't in it.

Secondly - they can't be injured. That takes a significant number of monstrous players out of the pool. Usually teams give their everything in the playoffs,which means people have a higher chance of breakage.

Thirdly - what exactly does this game DO for a player? Not much. It doesn't advance their team, nobody really cares about the game so it doesn't advance their personal brand, and if they get injured in the game there goes that next season's contract or in the case of a free agent - their entire marketability. If a really talented player is coming available by league rules, the last thing they want to get before summer negotiations start is any kind of injury.

So in essence, it's a few great players and a lot of good ones doing a meaningless scrimmage in Florida. 

Nobody watches it, nobody involved in it sees it as any more than a consolation prize, and the score is just for bragging points. 

 

 

 

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