PHOENIX >> Like sandlot players when they were kids, Hall of Famers Cris Carter and Michael Irvin chose sides on Wednesday night.
This time, they were drafting some of the best football players in the NFL for Team Carter and Team Irvin, the Pro Bowl matchup on Sunday.
Quarterback Andrew Luck of Indianapolis went No. 1 to Team Carter. Irvin chose Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo as No. 2.
They were the only two quarterbacks left from the original Pro Bowl roster. The other six bowed out.
The teams work out at Luke Air Force Base west of Phoenix on Thursday, then have practices Friday and Saturday at Scottsdale Community College.
More than a few players longed to be on the beach as in past, and future, Pro Bowl years.
“I’d like to be in Hawaii, you know,” Arizona Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell said. “It’s a free trip, a vacation in Hawaii, you can’t beat that.”
The NFL scrapped its AFC vs. NFC format and went to the current system a year ago. The game is being played for one year in Glendale, Arizona, site of next week’s Super Bowl, and will return to Hawaii next season.
Not everyone loves the new format.
“I think there was something about coming out here and saying ‘I’m from the AFC and this is my team,”‘ New York Jets center Nick Mangold said. “Now that it’s not, I’d be the first to say I’m not a fan of how they do it.”
Luck didn’t exactly offer a ringing endorsement.
“It’s interesting,” he said. “I’ve only done it a couple of times. Like anything, there’s some good and some bad. It’s all right.”
Both teams went with wide receivers with their next two picks.
Cincinnati’s A.J. Green was picked No. 3 by Carter. Odell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants was No. 4 to Irvin. Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles was selected No. 5 by Team Carter. Team Irvin went with Dallas offensive tackle Tyron Smith at No. 6.
Wide receiver Antonio Brown of Pittsburgh and defensive end J.J. Watt of Houston already had been named co-captains for Team Carter. Dallas running back DeMarco Murray and Cleveland cornerback Joe Haden are co-captains for Team Irvin.
The 2-hour draft was held on a brightly colored stage, with Carter in neon yellow and Irvin in bright orange. It was held in front of an enthusiastic crowd in the ballroom of the swanky Biltmore Resort. Hundreds of fans lined far around the building in hopes of getting in. Many left disappointed.
Baltimore’s John Harbaugh and his staff will coach Team Carter. Dallas’ Jason Garrett and his staff will coach Team Irvin.