HOUSTON – Houston Texans DE J.J. Watt was named an active player captain for the 2015 Pro Bowl, the NFL announced today. Watt will be paired with Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown while Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray will work with Cleveland Browns CB Joe Haden.
These four captains will help determine rosters for Team Carter and Team Irvin during the Pro Bowl Draft on January 21.
Watt's 2014 season was filled with historical significance as the fourth-year pro out of Wisconsin etched his name in the NFL's history book. He became the first player in NFL history to record two seasons with more than 20 sacks (20.5 in 2012 and again in 2014). He also joined Jason Taylor as the only player to record 10 sacks and 10 passes defensed in two different seasons since 1991.
Watt, a three-time All Pro, totaled 78 tackles and 20.5 sacks and scored 32 points on three receiving touchdowns, a fumble return touchdown, an interception return touchdown and a safety. He also led the league with 50 quarterback hits, 22 more than the second ranked player, 29 tackles for loss, six more than the second ranked player, and five fumble recoveries. He tied for second in defensive touchdowns (two) and tied for third in forced fumbles (four).
In addition, Watt is the first defensive lineman since Chicago Bears DE Connie Mack Berry in 1944 to have at least five touchdowns in a season. Watt is also the first player since Chicago Bears DB J.C. Caroline in 1956 to score multiple touchdowns on offense and defense in the same season.
The 2015 Pro Bowl, presented by McDonald's, has been announced as a sellout and will be televised live on ESPN at 8:00 p.m. ET from University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona, site of Super Bowl XLIX. It will again serve as the signature event to kick off Super Bowl week. NBC will broadcast the Super Bowl a week later on Sunday, February 1.
Pro Football Hall of Famers Cris Carter and Michael Irvin will serve as alumni team captains for the Pro Bowl squads and have final say over draft decisions. Pro Football Hall of Famer John Randle (Team Carter) and Darren Woodson (Team Irvin) will serve as defensive co-captains. The NFL legends will also each be assisted by two active player captains and the Lenovo Fantasy Coach of the Year during the draft process.
To determine which team owns the first selection in the Pro Bowl Draft and how the alumni captains will be paired with active player captains, there will be a coin toss during the Pro Bowl Kickoff Press Conference on Tuesday morning, January 20.
The 2015 Pro Bowl Draft, presented by McDonald's, will be nationally televised on January 21 in primetime on NFL Network on Wednesday (8:00 p.m. ET). For the second consecutive season, the Pro Bowl will be "unconferenced." Gone is the familiar AFC vs. NFC match-up that had existed since 1971. Instead, players were selected without regard to conference in voting by fans, coaches and players.
The Pro Bowl players were determined by the consensus votes of fans, players and coaches. Each group's vote counted one-third toward determining the 86 Pro Bowl selections announced today. Two additional "need" players will be chosen by each head coach and must be long snappers. The NFL is the only sports league that combines voting by fans, coaches and players to determine its all-star teams. In 1995, the NFL became the first professional sports league to offer online all-star voting.