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Pro Bowl Diaries: Behind the Scenes of the 2024 Pro Bowl Games

Story by Gabby Hajduk, Photographs by Jacob Funk



Cornerback Jaylon Johnson and defensive end Montez Sweat represented the Bears in the 2024 Pro Bowl Games and took ChicagoBears.com along for the trip.

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Alongside the Pro Bowl Games, the NFL also hosted the Flag Football Championships in Orlando last weekend and celebrated the event with an NFL Flag Fan Fest Thursday at University of Central Florida.

Hundreds of youth girls and boys flag players attended the event to kick off their tournament, which showcased teams that won at the 2023 NFL Flag Regionals. Over 250 teams across multiple levels of flag football, including youth, adult and international teams, participated in the tournament.

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The event included activities for kids and their families including flag football drills, inflatable obstacle courses, field goal challenges, a fan store, a trophy display and a "play like a girl" braid bar and selfie station.

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Player participation for the Pro Bowl Games began with NFC and AFC practices at Camping World Stadium on Friday and Saturday morning.

Both teams had separate 80-minute practice sessions each day, which started with a 20-minute period of media availability for all players.

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Johnson also had the opportunity to connect with NFL UK and received a custom "Bears 24" Tottenham Hotspur shirt to celebrate the team's international game in London in the 2024 season.

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Once practice began, the players warmed up and did light drills like route-running and catching passes. The teams also took the time to strategize and discuss game plans with the coaches for Sunday's flag game and skills challenges.

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Montez Sweat talks with NFC defensive coordinator and Hall of Famer DeMarcus Ware during NFC practice.
Montez Sweat talks with NFC defensive coordinator and Hall of Famer DeMarcus Ware during NFC practice.

Johnson and Sweat also spent time hanging out with other star players around the league and enjoyed learning more about their NFL counterparts outside of competing against each other.

Micah Parsons (Cowboys linebacker) with Montez Sweat and Jaylon Johnson.
Micah Parsons (Cowboys linebacker) with Montez Sweat and Jaylon Johnson.

After practice, fans lined up along the field and waited for players to come by for autographs and pictures.

Sweat spent time with a family of Bears fans and signed a football for the young boy.

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NFC coach and former Giants quarterback Eli Manning added to the post-practice festivities by participating in a rap battle with viral YouTube rapper Deshawn Raw, also known as "Supa Hot Fire."

Fans gathered back at Camping World Stadium Sunday for the Pro Bowl Games Championships to see which NFL conference would come out with the win. The official attendance for the annual event was 55,709 fans.

Coach and player introductions started at 1:45 p.m. CT as each team made their way onto the field. Players entered onto the field with their position groups, stopping to pose for photos and hype the crowd up. Johnson and Sweat made sure to connect on the field pregame.

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The championships commenced at 2 p.m. CT with the national anthem and a flyover.

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Johnson served as one of the NFC's starting defenders in the flag game, which consisted of four 12-minute quarters.

Jaylon Johnson defends Ja'Maar Chase (Bengals receiver).
Jaylon Johnson defends Ja'Maar Chase (Bengals receiver).
Jaylon Johnson defends Tyreek Hill (Dolphins receiver).
Jaylon Johnson defends Tyreek Hill (Dolphins receiver).

Between each quarter of the flag game, players competed in various skills challenges which contributed to the teams' cumulative scoring. 

The first challenge of the day was "Move the Chains" where five players from each team worked together to move 3,000 pounds of weight off a wall before pulling the 2,000-pound wall across the finish line. 

Sweat was one of the NFC participants, helping lead the team to its first win of the day.

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After the challenge, Sweat and Manning shared a moment on the field to celebrate the win.

Sweat also participated in the second heat of the "Gridiron Gauntlet" challenge, executing the "Tip Drill" event. The NFC continued its victorious streak by coming out on top in both heats.

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The championship came down to the final moments of the flag game as the NFC held a 64-59 lead after winning each of the skills challenges Sunday. 

With the AFC's offense in scoring position, Johnson sealed the NFC's victory by tipping C.J. Stroud's pass to Keenan Allen in the end zone. The NFC has now come out with a Pro Bowl Games win two years in a row.

Johnson and Sweat celebrated the win together and with their families to commemorate their first Pro Bowl Games appearances.

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Montez Sweat with his son, Shiloh.
Montez Sweat with his son, Shiloh.
Jaylon Johnson with his daughter, Zaveah.
Jaylon Johnson with his daughter, Zaveah.

The Bears' star defenders ended the day by meeting with fans after the game to take pictures and sign autographs.

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