NEW YORK: Peyton Manning was named to his NFL-best 14th Pro Bowl to lead a league-best nine Denver Broncos players into the annual all-star game, the NFL announced.
The superstar quarterback, who won a Super Bowl title with Indianapolis, lost in last February’s title game against Seattle but hopes to lift the Broncos back to the championship spectacle in next month’s NFL playoffs.
Two of Manning’s favorite targets, receiver Demaryius Thomas and tight end Julius Thomas, also were named to the preliminary Pro Bowl lineup.
Hall of Fame receivers Cris Carter and Michael Irvin will serve as alumni captains for the January 25 matchup in suburban Phoenix at the same stadium where the Super Bowl will be staged a week later.
Players will be divided into teams in a draft format by the captains as was done for the first time last year in place of the old format between players from American Conference clubs playing those from the National Conference.
Jacksonville, Minnesota, Tennessee and the New York Giants did not have a player named but could have talent added to rosters as injuries and playoff success force other players to drop out.
Players from Super Bowl squads do not take part in the Pro Bowl.
Among those not selected to the Pro Bowl were new York Giants rookie receiver Odell Beckham, whose spectacular one-handed touchdown grab along the sideline became the season’s most talked-about play, and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who sparked his team to its first Super Bowl crown last February.
New England quarterback Tom Brady was named to his 10th Pro Bowl and was among five Patriots selected.
Other quarterbacks chosen include Tony Romo of Dallas, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck of Indianapolis and Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger.
Romo’s Cowboys had six players named to the Pro Bowl talent pool, second only to Denver.
The game, traditionally played in Hawaii, will be played at a site beyond Aloha Stadium for only the second time since 1980, and the first since 2010. The game will return to Honolulu in 2016.
Last January, Jerry Rice’s team took a 22-21 triumph over one guided by fellow Hall of Famer receiver Deion Sanders.