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Trivia: Pro Bowlers on NFL Champions

Yesterday, we looked at the team with the most Hall of Famers in a single season in NFL history. That team, which won the NFL championship, had 8 of its players make the Pro Bowl. That’s a very high number, of course, but over 30 teams have won it all and had eight or more players make the Pro Bowl.

Three teams have had twelve players make the Pro Bowl in a championship season. Two of them came in the AFL. In 1961, QB George Blanda, HB Billy Cannon, FB Charley Tolar, WR Charley Hennigan, TE Bob McLeod, LT Al Jamison, C Bob Schmidt, DE Don Floyd, DT Ed Husmann, MLB Dennit Morris, and cornerbacks Tony Banfield and Mark Johnston, all made the Pro Bowl for the Houston Oilers.  Somehow, Bill Groman, who led the league with 17 touchdowns and was a first-team All-Pro selection, was not a Pro Bowler.

A year later, another Texas team won the AFL championship and sent a dozen players to the Pro Bowl. Lamar Hunt’s Dallas Texans fielded QB Len Dawson, HB Abner Haynes, FB Curtis McClinton, TE Fred Arbanas, LT Jim Tyrer, LG Marvin Terrell, RT Jerry Cornelison, DE Mel Branch, DT Jerry Mays, LLB E.J. Holub, MLB Sherrill Headrick, and CB Dave Grayson en route to an 11-3 record.

But only one NFL champion has sent 12 players to the Pro Bowl.  Can you guess who?

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By comparison, last year’s Super Bowl champs had half that number: Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Max Unger, Richard ShermanEarl Thomas, and Kam Chancellor.  I’ll also note that a few teams teams sent all their players to the Pro Bowl, due to the rules at the time. From 1938 to 1942, each member of the NFL champion was named to the Pro Bowl.  The AFL enacted the same rule in 1965, giving the Buffalo Bills a record 37 Pro Bowlers. That’s also the last season the Bills won it all, and I won’t blame Buffalo fans for thinking they might need to send 37 players to the Pro Bowl to ever win another championship.

Only three teams in NFL history have ever sent more than 12 players to the Pro Bowl, with each team sending thirteen. Each of the Oilers and Chiefs teams mentioned above were able to do it later on: for Houston, the ’62 squad that lost to Kansas City had thirteen Pro Bowlers, while the Chiefs sent 13 players to the Pro Bowl in ’64 after having “just” 8 Pro Bowlers in 1963. The other team was the 2007 Cowboys, who, well, you know. For Dallas, the baker’s dozen were K Nick Folk, SS Roy Williams, LLB Greg Ellis, RCB Terence Newman, FS Ken Hamlin, C Andre Gurode, LT Flozell Adams, RB Marion Barber, TE Jason Witten, RLB DeMarcus Ware, RG Leonard Davis, WR Terrell Owens, and… QB Tony Romo.

  • The 2007 Cowboys were an interesting team. Along with the Colts and Jags, I thought they were the best shot at beating New England (the Giants didn’t even register). They also suffered from the hot/cold NFC East curse whereby teams could play the best and worst football you’ve ever seen…sometimes within the same game.

    • tom mcentee

      I agree. That team was 13-3 and dominated the Giants in the Divisional Playoff game but somehow came up short. Still remember a drop by Crayton in the second half that might have been the knockout punch.

  • Tim Truemper

    Guessed the Dolphins after one hint! Ok, seriously, the 2007 Cowboys team was a championship level team that lost to the champions. (Bad) luck of the draw. Giants had a great game plan and out-strategized Dallas while capitalizing on some good fortune that occurred during the game.