The NFL will announced the 2016 Pro Bowl selections tonight, giving us the list of players who will make up the all-star game. Pro Bowl players are selected through votes from fans, players, and coaches, with each group providing one-third of the final tally. The players selected will then take part in a "fantasy" draft to determine who will play on which team.
Last week, the league released the final results of the fan vote, with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady receiving the most votes, followed by Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, who trailed by just 468 votes. The drop back to third place Andy Dalton, quarterback of the Cincinnati Bengals, was over 175,000 votes from Newton. Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed a quarterback sweep of the top five vote getters.
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski finished sixth in the fan vote, followed by New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Browns, and Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman. Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson rounded out the top ten.
This year's Pro Bowl continues the "unconferenced" selection of players that began with the 2014 game. Prior to 2014, players were selected to the all-star game based on whether they played in the AFC or NFC conferences, with each conference's all-stars then forming a team. Three years ago, the league changed that rule, with every player eligible to be selected, rather than a limited number from each conference. They then went into the fantasy draft, with an NFL legend serving as the captain for each team. That allows for intriguing situations where an NFC quarterback might be throwing to an AFC wide receiver who is guarded by his teammate from his actual club.
During last year's Pro Bowl, Miami Dolphins fans enjoyed seeing teammates defensive end Cameron Wake matched up against guard Mike Pouncey.
This year's Pro Bowl returns to Hawaii's Aloha Stadium after being played in Arizona's University of Phoenix Stadium last year. It will also be the seventh consecutive year in which the game will take place a week before the Super Bowl, a change the league made in order to ensure the championship game was the culminating event for the season.
Here is everything you need to know for the selection show tonight, the fantasy draft, and the Pro Bowl itself:
Pro Bowl selection show
When: December 22, 2015, 8pm ET
TV Station: NFL Network
What: NFL Pro Bowl selections will be revealed. These selections will be without regard to AFC or NFC conferences, and will not be making up specific teams for the Pro Bowl. This broadcast will simply release the names of the 88 players who have been selected in a voting by the fans, coaches, and players. Alternates for the game will not be released during the show, but their names may leak out if the players choose to acknowledge. Alternates will be activated for the game to replace any Pro Bowl selections who are from the two teams playing in the Super Bowl and for any players who bow out of the game due to injury.
Pro Bowl fantasy draft
When: January 27, 2016
TV Station: ESPN
Captains: Jerry Rice, Michael Irvin
What: Rice and Irvin, each assisted by one of the top two vote recipients from offense and defense, will select their teams for the Pro Bowl in a fantasy football draft. The draft will take place over two days, with the second day televised. The first day typically includes players selected at the "non-glamor" positions, followed by the live selection of players at positions like quarterback, wide receiver, defensive end, and cornerback.
When: January 31, 2016, 8pm ET
TV Station: ESPN
Where: Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii