Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers and New England Patriots’ Tom Brady were named on Tuesday as the starting quarterbacks for the National Football League (NFL) Pro Bowl. Rodgers and Brady will square off in Hawaii on Jan. 29 in the NFL’s All-Star showcase but only if they are not in Indianapolis the following weekend playing in the Super Bowl. The NFC quarterbacking line-up includes three Super Bowl most valuable players, led by Rodgers, who has guided the reigning Super Bowl champions to a 14-1 record this season. Rodgers will be backed up by Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints, who claimed the NFL’s single-season passing record on Monday and will be making his sixth All-Star appearance. New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning earns his second Pro Bowl selection to match father Archie but will have some work to do to match brother Peyton who has been named to 11 All-Star teams. Brady will start for the AFC (American Football Conference) for the second consecutive season and will be backed up San Diego Chargers’ Philip Rivers and Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger. The Patriots led the AFC with eight Pro Bowl selections while the San Francisco 49ers were tops in the NFC (National Football Conference), also with eight and one better than the Super Bowl champion Packers with seven.
Favorite Targets Brady will be joined in Hawaii by two of his favorite targets, Wes Welker, who leads the league in receptions and yards, and Rob Gronkowski, who has already set an NFL record for most touchdowns in a season by a tight end with 15. The AFC roster has 13 first-time All-Stars, including Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green, who becomes the first rookie wide receiver to be selected to the Pro Bowl since Anquan Boldin in 2003. The other starting receivers will be Pittsburgh’s Mike Wallace and Miami Dolphins’ Brandon Marshall. The AFC backfield will feature first-time starter Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens, backed up by Arian Foster of the Houston Texans and Maurice Jones-Drew of the Jacksonville Jaguars. LeSean McCoy, who leads the NFL with 20 touchdowns, will be the NFC’s starting running back and will be joined by San Francisco’s Frank Gore and the Chicago Bears’ injured Matt Forte. Starting wide receivers will include Arizona Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald, Detroit Lions’ Calvin Johnson, Green Bay’s Greg Jennings and Carolina’s Steve Smith. Saints’ Jimmy Graham, who leads NFL tight ends with 91 receptions, earned his first Pro Bowl appearance ahead of Atlanta Falcons’ Tony Gonzalez, who celebrates his 12th All-Star selection, the most all-time for a tight end. The NFL combines voting by fans, coaches and players to determine its All-Star selections with the consensus vote of each group counting one-third towards the total.