What’s the Pro Bowl?

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The Pro Bowl is the NFL’s All Star game, where players from the AFC and NFC compete. It began in 1939 as a game between All Stars and the NFL championship team, and has gone through various versions before becoming a standard part of every football season in 1951. The first AFC-NFC Pro Bowl was played in 1971.

The National Football League brings together the best players from the best teams each season for an All Star game. This contest is known as the Pro Bowl. Its official title is the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl, as players from the American Football Conference and the National Football Conference compete. This, not the Super Bowl, is the last game of every season.

There is some confusion as to when this tradition began, due to the fact that various versions of the contest have been played over the years. Before the AFC and NFC even existed, All Star games, called the Pro Bowl, were played. George Marshall is credited with the idea, according to the NFL History Official Site. He also created the concept of league games.

The first game called the Pro Bowl occurred in 1939. It was a contest between all-league All Stars and that season’s NFL championship team. The New York Giants beat the All Stars. The tradition continued for the next five years, and in the senior Pro Bowl, the All Stars beat the Washington Redskins.

It would be nearly a decade before the Pro Bowl became a standard part of every football season again, in 1951. For nearly two decades afterward, the best of the American Conference and the National Conference, or “East and West,” played each other in the Pro Bowl. However, during the short time of the American Football League (AFL), they revived the older version once. The AFL champions, the Buffalo Bills, lost to the All Stars. A few years later, in 1970, the AFL and NFL became one.

The first AFC-NFC Pro Bowl, the version still used today, was played in 1971, closing out the 1970 season. The fact that the seasons start and end in different years can add to the confusion as to which year is correctly referred to as the first year of game for the Pro Bowl. Many people also confuse the first year the Pro Bowl was played in Honolulu, its home since 1980, as the year it began.

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