Okay, fine: The actual Pro Bowl game might be a little bit of a joke. No one wants to be the guy who gives someone a career-ending injury in an exhibition game.
But making it onto the Pro Bowl roster? That’s no laughing matter for NFL players.
Each athlete is voted in based on the work they do on the field during the season, but what really gets them to that level comes from the countless hours spent in the gym and on the practice field working out.
It’s those late-night workouts when nobody’s watching. The extra sessions after practice, when everyone else went back into the locker room. The workout at home after a long day of meetings. Those times when the fans aren’t there and it’s just you and your reflection in the mirror pushing yourself to do more—that’s what builds All-Star talent.
One example? Take it from Jamal Liggin, the performance coach and trainer who works with Odell Beckham Jr. (and many, many other NFL players), who told Men’s Fitness just how committed OBJ is to his work.
“Odell called me one time at midnight, and was like, ‘Dude I’m about to get off a plane. Let’s get some work in,'” Liggin says. “We ended up training from like 2 to 4 in the morning. That’s the kind of guy Odell is and how dedicated he is.”
That’s how you become a Pro Bowl player.
Here are 19 players in the Pro Bowl getting at it and just crushing their workouts:
19. D.J. Alexander, Kansas City Chiefs – AFC, Special Teams
18. Demaryius Thomas – AFC, Wide Receiver
17. Geno Atkins, Cincinnati Bengals – AFC, Defensive End
16. Kyle Juszczyk, Baltimore Ravens – AFC, Fullback
15. Darian Stewart, Denver Broncos – AFC, Safety
14. Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers – NFC, Tight End
13. Cameron Wake, Miami Dolphins – AFC, Defensive End
12. Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens – AFC, Kicker
Whatever Tucker is doing, it’s working. See him blast a 75-yard field goal in Pro Bowl practice:
11. Michael Bennett, Seattle Seahawks – NFC, Defensive End
10. Ndamukong Suh, Miami Dolphins – AFC, Defensive Tackle
9. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys – NFC, Wide Receiver
8. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs – AFC, Tight End
7. Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants – NFC, Wide Receiver
6. Carlos Dunlap, Cincinnati Bengals – AFC, Defensive End
5. Linval Joseph, Minnesota Vikings – NFC, Defensive Tackle
4. Trent Williams, Washington Redskins – NFC, Offensive Line
3. Darren Sproles, Philadelphia Eagles – NFC, Special Teams
2. Gerald McCoy, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – NFC, Defensive Tackle
1. Xavier Rhodes, Minnesota Vikings – NFC, Cornerback