A select number of the NFL's best players will be making a trip to Hawaii to participate in this Sunday's AFC-NFC Pro Bowl, though the league's annual all-star game will be lacking some of its star power once again due to a variety of factors.
This will mark the third consecutive year in which the Pro Bowl will be held one week prior to the Super Bowl, thereby removing members of the New England Patriots and New York Giants that were chosen to play in Sunday's exhibition from their conference respective rosters once those teams qualified for the upcoming championship game.
The AFC has been hit particularly hard by the rule, as the Patriots had seven starters and eight players overall invited to Honolulu. That list included such notable names as quarterback Tom Brady, wide receiver Wes Welker and tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Following New England's defections, Baltimore had led the AFC corps with eight selections before four Ravens (running back Ray Rice, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and safety Ed Reed) all pulled out shortly after the club's loss to the Patriots in this past Sunday's conference championship. That leaves AFC West champion Denver with a team-high six players, although popular quarterback Tim Tebow was not among those named.
Brady's departure elevates Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger to the starting signal-caller's post for the AFC, which will be coached by Houston's Gary Kubiak, with Rogers first to lead the NFC offense before likely giving way to New Orleans record-setter Drew Brees.
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