First virtual all-star game in NFL history may include some former RedHawks

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Photos provided by the Jacksonville Jaguars, Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Rams

Former Miami RedHawks Doug Costin and Ben Roethlisberger are on this year’s NFL Pro Bowl ballot, while Sam Sloman was recently picked up by the Tennessee Titans after being cut by the L.A. Rams last month.

By Kayla Kamil

Two former Miami University RedHawks have made the 2021 NFL Pro Bowl Ballot for this year. Rookie defensive tackle Doug Costin and veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger are up for this season’s all-star game, which will look very different this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Pro Bowl is guaranteed to be free of physical injury this year, as it will be held virtually for the first time in the league’s history, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Players selected will be competing in a game on a “Madden NFL 21” video game that will be streamed live. 

Originally scheduled to be played live, in Las Vegas on Jan. 31, the NFL announced Nov. 17, that the game would become a week-long virtual event, using the popular Madden video football platform. Because the event is virtual, players on Super Bowl-bound teams, held out of live Pro Bowl games to prevent injuries, will be allowed into this year’s game. Players elected to the virtual squads are still expected to receive real monetary bonuses for being selected to the Pro Bowl teams, according to the league.

Earlier this month, Costin was named as the league’s top rookie interior defender by Pro Football Focus. Since failing to make the active lineup for the Jacksonville Jaguar’s first three games of the season, he has appeared in seven games, making five tackles and assisting on eleven. He also defended one pass for an incompletion, in week 11 against Roethlisberger, of the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

Roethlisberger, who quarterbacked for Miami from 2000 through 2003, has led the Steelers to an unbeaten 11-0 record, the best in the league so far this season. He’s thrown for 25 touchdowns and 2,800 yards this season, after missing much of last year with a right elbow injury.  

Fans can vote for both Costin and Roethlisberger on the NFL’s Pro Bowl Ballot until Dec. 17. Votes can also be cast on Twitter using the hashtag #ProBowlVote. Following the fan vote, players and coaches will submit their ballots Dec. 18. 

The final Pro Bowl roster will be announced on NFL Network later this month. 

Costin’s former teammate turned fellow rookie opponent Sam Sloman will get another chance to showcase his skillset after being signed as a backup kicker on the Tennessee Titans’ practice squad Nov. 24. 

Sloman was cut from the L.A. Rams in late October after missing an extra point in the team’s week 6 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. He converted on eight of 11 field-goal attempts and 18 of 21 extra-point attempts for the Rams.