The NFL's best will be in the spotlight on Sunday, January 29 (7:00 PM ET, NBC) as the 2012 Pro Bowl kicks off Super Bowl Week.
The NFL All-Star Game will take place once again at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii and will be the signature event to start the week leading up to Super Bowl XLVI between the New England Patriots and New York Giants in Indianapolis (Sunday, February 5, NBC).
"Being selected to represent the NFC team in the Pro Bowl is a tremendous honor," says New Orleans Saints tight end JIMMY GRAHAM. "I think any guy who gets named to the Pro Bowl realizes that it's a heck of a compliment and I am grateful and humbled by it."
For the third consecutive year, the Pro Bowl will be played the week before the Super Bowl. The 2011 Pro Bowl on FOX was watched by an average of 13.4 million viewers, the most for a Pro Bowl since 1997 (13.5 million viewers), making it the most-watched All-Star game of any sport since 2009.
Last year, the NFC tied a single-game Pro Bowl scoring record by defeating the AFC 55-41 (the NFC also scored 55 points in 2004). Washington Redskins cornerback DE ANGELO HALL was named the MVP of the 2011 Pro Bowl, notching an interception, returning a fumble 34 yards for a touchdown and posting six solo tackles. The 2012 game is the 42nd between the AFC and NFC All-Stars with the NFC holding a slight edge in the all-time series, 21-20.
The 43-man teams are comprised of 21 offensive and 17 defensive players plus five specialists, including a long snapper. The AFC All-Star team will be led by GARY KUBIAK and the coaches from the Houston Texans while MIKE MCCARTHY and the Green Bay Packers' coaching staff will guide the NFC Pro Bowl squad.
The San Francisco 49ers lead the NFL with nine players selected to the 2012 Pro Bowl – kicker DAVID AKERS, safety DASHON GOLDSON, running back FRANK GORE, punter ANDY LEE, long snapper BRIAN JENNINGS, cornerback CARLOS ROGERS, defensive end JUSTIN SMITH, tackle JOE STALEY and linebacker PATRICK WILLIS.
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, over 100 million fan votes were cast on NFL.com and mobile devices.
Under terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each player on the winning Pro Bowl team receives $50,000, while each player on the losing squad earns $25,000.
The Pro Bowl was held consecutively from 1980 to 2009 at Honolulu's Aloha Stadium, moved to Sun Life Stadium in South Florida in 2010 and then returned to Hawaii in 2011.