The Atlanta Falcons, who have the NFC’s best record at 12-3, placed an NFL-best seven players on the National Football Conference All-Star team that will face the American Football Conference All-Stars in the 2011 Pro Bowl – the kickoff to Super Bowl week – the NFL announced today.
The 2011 Pro Bowl will be played on Sunday, January 30, 2011 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii one week before Super Bowl XLV in North Texas. Broadcast live on FOX at 7:00 PM ET, the Pro Bowl will be held prior to the Super Bowl for the second consecutive year and serve as the signature kickoff event of Super Bowl week.
Seven NFC players will participate in their first Pro Bowl, including three Falcons – fullback OVIE MUGHELLI, quarterback MATT RYAN and special teamer ERIC WEEMS. Two Lions will make their All-Star game debuts as wide receiver CALVIN JOHNSON and rookie defensive tackle NDAMUKONG SUH have earned selections for the first time. Rounding out the Pro Bowl newcomers are Packers wide receiver GREG JENNINGS and Saints guard CARL NICKS.
The starting quarterback for the NFC is Philadelphia’s MICHAEL VICK, who has earned his fourth Pro Bowl berth. Vick, who leads the NFC in passer rating (103.6) and tops NFL QBs in rushing with 613 yards and eight touchdowns, is on pace to join Pro Football Hall of Famer STEVE YOUNG (1992) as the only quarterbacks in NFL history to have a 100.0+ rating and rush for 500+ yards in a season. He is joined at the position by five-time All-Star DREW BREES of New Orleans and Atlanta’s Ryan. Since signing with the Saints in 2006, Brees has been selected to the Pro Bowl four times and passed for 22,722 yards, the most ever in any five-year span in NFL history. Atlanta’s Ryan, the first Falcons quarterback to be selected since Vick in 2006, has won 32 games in his first three NFL seasons, the second-most among quarterbacks (Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO, 33) who started their careers since 1970.
Starting at running back is Atlanta’s MICHAEL TURNER, a two-time All-Star who leads the NFC in rushing with 1,304 yards. He is joined by St. Louis’ STEVEN JACKSON, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, and four-time All-Star ADRIAN PETERSON. Jackson has rushed for 1,196 yards and became the franchise’s all-time leading rusher this season (7,903). Peterson, the MVP of the 2008 Pro Bowl, leads the NFC averaging 88.4 rushing yards per game.
The Falcons’ Mughelli completes the backfield at fullback.
The starting wide receivers for the NFC are Detroit’s Johnson and Atlanta’s RODDY WHITE, who has been named an All-Star each of the past three years. Johnson, who has 77 catches for 1,120 yards and 12 touchdowns, is the first player in franchise history with two seasons with at least 75 catches, 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns. White, who joins ANDRE RISON (1991-94) as the only Falcons wide receivers to be selected to at least three consecutive Pro Bowls, leads the NFL with a career-high 109 receptions. Filling out the position are Philadelphia’s DE SEAN JACKSON and Green Bay’s Jennings. Jackson, who last year was selected at two positions (wide receiver and kick returner), is one of only two players in NFL history to score a touchdown via receiving, rushing and punt returning during each of his first three seasons (DICK TODD, 1939-41). Jennings has recorded his third consecutive 1,000-yard season and ties the Lions’ Johnson for the NFC lead with 12 receiving touchdowns.
Starting at tight end is Dallas’ JASON WITTEN, who has been selected to his seventh consecutive Pro Bowl. He leads NFL tight ends with 90 receptions and 956 yards and earlier this season became the fastest player at the position in NFL history to reach 600 catches (125 games). Atlanta’s TONY GONZALEZ has earned his 11th All-Star selection, the most all-time by a tight end. He is the Pro Bowl’s all-time leader in receptions (39) and receiving yards (590) and is tied for first with five receiving touchdowns.
New Orleans’ JAHRI EVANS and CHRIS SNEE of the New York Giants get the starting nod at guard. Evans has earned his second consecutive All-Star berth and Snee has been chosen each of the past three seasons. Evans’ teammate Nicks, who will make his Pro Bowl debut, completes the position.
Dallas’ ANDRE GURODE will start at center, his fifth consecutive Pro Bowl selection. Three-time All-Star SHAUN O’HARA of the New York Giants is the other center for the NFC.
The starting tackles are Carolina’s JORDAN GROSS and Philadelphia’s JASON PETERS. Gross was previously chosen for the 2009 Pro Bowl while Peters has earned his fourth consecutive selection. Eleven-year veteran CHAD CLIFTON of Green Bay rounds out the position with his second All-Star nod.
Atlanta’s JOHN ABRAHAM and Chicago’s JULIUS PEPPERS will get the start at defensive end. Abraham, a four-time selection, leads the NFC with 13 sacks and ranks second among active players with 102.5 career sacks. Peppers, in his first year with the Bears, has been chosen six times in his career. He is the first Chicago defensive end to be selected since RICHARD DENT in 1994. JUSTIN TUCK of the New York Giants, who was a member of the 2009 NFC team, will make his second trip to the Pro Bowl.
The starters on the interior defensive line are Dallas’ JAY RATLIFF and Detroit’s Suh. Ratliff has been chosen each of the past three years. Suh leads all rookies with nine sacks and is the first Lions rookie to be selected since Pro Football Hall of Fame running back BARRY SANDERS (1990). The third player at the position is San Francisco’s JUSTIN SMITH, a two-time All-Star.
For the third consecutive year, San Francisco’s PATRICK WILLIS, a four-time All-Star, has been selected to start at inside linebacker. He will be joined by Chicago’s BRIAN URLACHER, a seven-time Pro Bowl choice. Urlacher is the fourth linebacker in team history to be named an All-Star at least seven times, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers MIKE SINGLETARY (10), DICK BUTKUS (eight) and BILL GEORGE (eight).
The starting outside linebackers are Green Bay’s CLAY MATTHEWS and Dallas’ DE MARCUS WARE. Matthews, who was a member of last year’s team, is the son of four-time All-Star CLAY MATTHEWS. They are one of three father-son duos since 1970 to each be selected to multiple AFC-NFC Pro Bowls (ARCHIE & PEYTON MANNING, TERRY & ERIC METCALF). Ware ties Matthews for second in the NFC with 12.5 sacks, his fifth consecutive 10-sack season. Chicago’s LANCE BRIGGS has earned his sixth Pro Bowl nod in a row and joins Singletary (10), Butkus (eight) and George (eight) as the only Bears linebackers with at least six consecutive All-Star selections.
At cornerback, four-time All-Star ASANTE SAMUEL of Philadelphia and seven-time Pro Bowl selection CHARLES WOODSON of Green Bay have earned the starting nod for the second consecutive season. Since the start of the 2006 season, Samuel leads the NFL with 36 interceptions and Woodson is tied for second with 30. During that span, Woodson’s eight interception-return touchdowns are the most in the league. Rounding out the cornerback position is Washington’s DE ANGELO HALL, who has received his third Pro Bowl berth.
The secondary is completed by strong safety ADRIAN WILSON of Arizona and free safeties NICK COLLINS of Green Bay and ANTREL ROLLE of the New York Giants. Wilson, chosen to his fourth Pro Bowl, and Collins, a three-time All-Star, will start. Rolle, in his first season with the Giants, has earned his second Pro Bowl berth in a row.
On special teams, Chicago’s DEVIN HESTER will be the kick returner. The three-time All-Star has returned three punts for a touchdown this season and set the NFL record for combined kick-return touchdowns in a career with 14 (10 PR, four KR). Atlanta’s Weems, a three-year veteran from Bethune-Cookman, will be the special teamer in his Pro Bowl debut. Dallas’ MAT MC BRIAR, who played at the University of Hawaii, will be the NFC’s punter for the second time in his career. Five-time All-Star DAVID AKERS, who leads the NFC in scoring with 134 points, will handle the kicking duties.
The 42-man NFC squad is comprised of 21 offensive and 17 defensive players plus four specialists. A 43rd “need” player will be chosen by the NFC head coach and must be a long snapper. The 2011 NFC coaching staff will be from the team with the best regular-season record that is eliminated in the NFC Divisional playoffs.
The NFL is the only professional sports league that combines voting by fans, coaches and players in determining its All-Star teams. The consensus vote of each group counts one-third towards the total. Each team submits two ballots – those of the coach and the players with no one permitted to vote for a player on his own team. This year, nearly 100 million fan votes were cast on NFL.com, on wireless phones and on Facebook.
The American Conference defeated the National Conference 41-34 last season in the Pro Bowl. The 2011 game is the 41st between the AFC and NFC All-Stars with the all-time series tied 20-20. Fans can purchase tickets to the 2011 Pro Bowl at www.NFL.com/probowl and www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-745-3000.
Under terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each player on the winning Pro Bowl team receives $45,000, while each player on the losing squad earns $22,500.
2011 NATIONAL FOOTBALL CONFERENCE ALL-STARS
AFC-NFC PRO BOWL, SUNDAY, JANUARY 30, 2011, ALOHA STADIUM, HONOLULU, HAWAII
(Starters listed in Bold/Italics)
(* First-time Pro Bowl selection)
|WIDE RECEIVERS||TIGHT ENDS|
|DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia||Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta|
|*||Greg Jennings, Green Bay||Jason Witten, Dallas|
|*||Calvin Johnson, Detroit|
|Roddy White, Atlanta||QUARTERBACKS|
|Drew Brees, New Orleans|
|TACKLES||*||Matt Ryan, Atlanta|
|Chad Clifton, Green Bay||Michael Vick, Philadelphia|
|Jordan Gross, Carolina|
|Jason Peters, Philadelphia||RUNNING BACKS|
|Steven Jackson, St. Louis|
|GUARDS||Adrian Peterson, Minnesota|
|Jahri Evans, New Orleans||Michael Turner, Atlanta|
|*||Carl Nicks, New Orleans|
|Chris Snee, New York Giants||FULLBACK|
|*||Ovie Mughelli, Atlanta|
|Andre Gurode, Dallas|
|Shaun O’Hara, New York Giants|
|DEFENSIVE ENDS||INSIDE/MIDDLE LINEBACKERS|
|John Abraham, Atlanta||Brian Urlacher, Chicago|
|Julius Peppers, Chicago||Patrick Willis, San Francisco|
|Justin Tuck, New York Giants|
|INTERIOR LINEMEN||DeAngelo Hall, Washington|
|Jay Ratliff, Dallas||Asante Samuel, Philadelphia|
|Justin Smith, San Francisco||Charles Woodson, Green Bay|
|*||Ndamukong Suh, Detroit|
|OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS||Adrian Wilson, Arizona|
|Lance Briggs, Chicago|
|Clay Matthews, Green Bay||FREE SAFTIES|
|DeMarcus Ware, Dallas||Nick Collins, Green Bay|
|Antrel Rolle, New York Giants|
|PUNTER||KICK RETURN SPECIALIST|
|Mat McBriar, Dallas||Devin Hester, Chicago|
|David Akers, Philadelphia||*||Eric Weems, Atlanta|