by Colin Bock
The NFL Pro Bowl may be a sign that all-star games are somewhat pointless in most peoples’ eyes, but it offers us an underrated specialty: the best players from this year playing with others of similar skill sets to see which compiled team of players is the best combination.
This year, the Pro Bowl is returning to the original format that it took a break from these past few games— the AFC (American Football Conference) versus the NFC (National Football Conference).
Since the AFL-NFL Merger in 1966, the NFL has been an enormous league, currently sporting 32 franchises. While many squads don’t make the playoffs (only 12 total do), all but the teams playing in the Super Bowl participate, and we get to see players from the Cleveland Browns finally win a game (kinda).
The AFL-NFL Merger represents a time of unity in the National Football League that is irreparable; a division would spark massive protest. At first, the AFL had teams severely lacking in ability to stand up to NFL teams.
But ever since Joe Namath’s famous, “I guarantee we’re gonna win” quote when his New York Jets of the AFL took on the NFL’s powerhouse Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III back in 1969, the AFL has won plenty credibility (and super bowls). As of today, the merger almost seems to be a myth; two of today’s powerhouses are from the AFL — those being the Steelers and the Patriots.
As such, the AFL and NFL were rival leagues for a very long time and with the Pro Bowl, the two associations had the chance to assemble rosters of their best players from all the teams in their respective league to gain bragging rights for their league.
Unlike in baseball, the winner of the Pro Bowl does not get home-field advantage in the Super Bowl simply due to the fact that the Super Bowl is played at a neutral setting for the sake of fairness.
All in all, I look forward to watching this year’s NFC stars, such as Odell Beckham and Ezekiel Elliott, take on this year’s AFC stars, such as Le’Veon Bell and Von Miller; this figures to be an excellent matchup certainly worth watching.