Super Bowl quarterbacks Brett Favre and Drew Bledsoe will go at it again today, although each will have a lot of backup and the stakes will be considerably lower than a week ago.
Favre, the two-time league MVP for Green Bay, will start for the NFC and New England’s Bledsoe will open for the AFC in the Pro Bowl.
Last week at New Orleans, Favre threw for two touchdowns and ran for another in the Packers’ 35-21 Super Bowl victory. Bledsoe passed for two Patriots touchdowns but also threw four interceptions.
“We didn’t win the Super Bowl, so I’m glad he did,” said Bledsoe, a friend of Favre’s. “It would be nice if we could win the Pro Bowl, since there’s so much talk about the NFC being the dominant conference and winning all the Super Bowls.”
The NFC has won 13 consecutive Super Bowls. Going into today’s Pro Bowl, the AFC all-stars have a 7-5 edge in the past 12 games, although the NFC leads the series, 15-11.
Each squad has three quarterbacks to share playing time, but three big names are missing from the rosters. Dallas’ Troy Aikman and San Francisco’s Steve Young were voted into the game, but withdrew because of injuries, as did Denver’s John Elway.
Washington’s Gus Frerotte and Carolina’s Kerry Collins will replace Aikman and Young for the NFC, and Jacksonville’s Mark Brunell has taken Elway’s spot on the AFC squad. Vinny Testaverde is the other AFC quarterback.
Testaverde, a 10-year NFL veteran, will be making his first Pro Bowl appearance.
The opposing coaches are from the NFL’s two-year-old teams, Dom Capers of the Carolina Panthers and Tom Coughlin of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Both came within one victory of the Super Bowl this past season.
The NFC will open with Detroit’s Barry Sanders, who led the NFL with 1,553 rushing yards, and Philadelphia’s Ricky Watters at the running back spots. The AFC will counter with Denver’s Terrell Davis, who gained 1,538 yards, and Pittsburgh’s Jerome Bettis.
Defensively, the NFC features Green Bay end Reggie White, and linebackers Kevin Greene, the league leader with 14 1/2 sacks, and Sam Mills, both of the Panthers.
The AFC defense includes linebackers Derrick Thomas of Kansas City, an eight-time all-star, and Junior Seau of San Diego, and linemen Cortez Kennedy of Seattle and Chester McGlockton of Oakland.
Meanwhile, NFL officials gave no commitment to Hawaii officials that the Pro Bowl will remain in that state beyond 1998.
NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue met with Gov. Ben Cayetano this week to discuss extending the Pro Bowl game in Hawaii into the next century.
The state’s contract with the league expires next year, and Hawaii likely will face competition from a host of mainland cities.
Serious talks won’t start until later this year, Tagliabue said.
Honolulu has been the site of the Pro Bowl since 1980.
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Pro Bowl Facts
* WHAT: NFC vs. AFC all-pros.
* WHEN: 5 p.m. today.
* WHERE: Aloha Stadium, Hawaii.
* TELEVISION: Channel 7.