A pair of former Florida Gators were elected Friday to the NFL Pro Bowl for the first time in their respective careers as fourth-year Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden and third-year Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey were both chosen to participate in this season’s all-star game.
Haden, the No. 7 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, is in the midst of the best campaign of his young career. Already considered one of the best cornerbacks in the league, he has shut down talented opposing receivers while registering 43 solo tackles and four interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) through 15 games.
Pouncey, the No. 15 overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, is finally being recognized for his on-field talent despite getting overlooked and snubbed in 2012 when he actually outperformed his brother, Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey (who was elected to his third-straight Pro Bowl last season).
Though he missed two games this season due to an illness, Mike Pouncey has once again proven to be one of the most versatile centers in the NFL.
Maurkice Pouncey was not elected to the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career; he tore the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his right knee during the first quarter of Pittsburgh’s season opener.
Haden and Mike Pouncey are the 21st and 22nd former Gators to be picked for the Pro Bowl. Former Florida players have received 60 total nominations to the game and have been honored with a selection to the Pro Bowl in 37 of the 44 years it has existed.
It is also the fifth-straight year that a former Gators player has been recognized.
The 2014 Pro Bowl – set to be played on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, HI – will be the first NFL all-star game not played with teams divided by conference (AFC vs. NFC). Instead, two fantasy football players – along with help from Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders – will choose the teams in a fantasy draft format. Additional rule changes include two-minute warnings every quarter, no kickoffs and adjustments to both the game and play clocks.