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Stanford in the NFL: Highlights from the Pro Bowl, AFC, NFC Conference Championship

A recap of how Stanford football alums performed in the NFL Pro Bowl and Conference Championship games.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Just a few days before football of all levels is done for the year! I can scarcely believe it, as I'm sure you cannot either. The Super Bowl is the last time the game will be played until August and September, so enjoy it while you still can. Savor every salsa-imbued tortilla chip, every sip of cheap beer, and the lame attempts of your not-so-sports-savvy friends to discuss football at your Super Bowl party of choice.

Unfortunately, there will be no Stanford players on the field in Super Bowl 50, ironic since the game will be played just down 280 from The Farm. Yes, Stanford will have representatives in the Denver front office, and in Carolina future contracts but...still not the same.

But let us not wallow in the bad news. Let's review how #StanfordNFL did during both conference championship games, as well as the Pro Bowl.

AFC Championship: New England 18, Denver 20

Did this game look familiar? It should have. It was a defensive struggle reminiscent of Stanford Football from 2012-2014, with both quarterbacks being frequent victims of their opponents' #partiesinthebackfield. Neither offense could get much going (in particular, the Denver defense did a good job of bottling up all of the non-Gronk elements of the New England offense).

Again, the Broncos do not have any members of #StanfordNFL despite having Cardinal legend John Elway as their general manager.

Following a trend, Patriots defensive back Jordan Richards ('15) did not start but saw limited action on the field, mostly on special teams. He participated in 24 snaps, which was 73% of the team's total. He also saw action on 3 defensive snaps. During that time, he registered zero tackles.

In previous games, offensive tackle Cameron Fleming ('13) saw no action for New England. This game was a little different, as he saw very limited time in the offensive line rotation.

Well, technically speaking, that's true. He made it onto the field for just 2 total snaps, all on offense. Whatever impression he made on the Patriot faithful, we can assume it was unfortunately not exactly positive.

You'll notice in this video that Von Miller sacks Tom Brady. However, you'll notice that the hapless blocker that he beats is #71... Cam Fleming.

Fleming shouldn't feel too bad. Von Miller has been a Pro Bowler every year he's been in the league, and one of the best pass rushers playing football. And this was just one of four sacks of Tom Brady that the Patriots offensive line allowed. That said...yeah, not a great showing for Cam. It perhaps explains why Bill Belichick only allowed him to take 2 snaps.

As mentioned in previous weeks, the Patriots have Tyler Gaffney ('13) on injured reserve and he obviously did not play in this game.

NFC Championship: Arizona 15, Carolina 49

Nose tackle Josh Mauro ('13) has been growing in his role on the Arizona defensive line. Again, he started for the Cardinals, but was on the field for just 9 snaps (7 on defense, 2 on special teams) registering a tackle assist before he was taken down by a calf injury. He did not return to the game.

Stanford's all-time leader for rushing yards, Stepfan Taylor ('13), remains deeply entrenched behind starter David Johnson at running back. However, he saw time at special teams, stepping onto the field for 59% of the unit's snaps. He recorded no stats during that time.

Carolina has Matthew Masafilo ('12) and David Yankey ('14) on future contracts, and neither played.

Pro Bowl: Team Rice 27, Team Irwin 49

Let's state the obvious: no one really cares about the Pro Bowl. Well, that's not true. I suppose the players who get to play in it are jazzed to have an excuse to travel to Hawaii, and who wouldn't love that?

But yes, let's not assume anyone will care about what actually happened beyond the members of #StanfordNFL.

Team Rice had no former Stanford players. Thanks for nothing, Jerry Rice.

Michael Irvin was smarter, and had 2 former Cardinal players. Obviously this explains why his team smashed Team Rice!

With his Steelers eliminated last week, David DeCastro ('11) was able to make the trek out to Hawaii for his first Pro Bowl. It was a great year for the standout guard, who has become an integral part of Pittsburgh's offensive line. And he deserved the nice trip it appears he got:

If you want more DeCastro pics from the Pro Bowl, the Steelers are more than happy to oblige.

The only other member of Nerd Nation represented at the Pro Bowl was, not surprisingly, Richard Sherman ('11). While on the field, he registered 2 total tackles, 1 of which was solo.

Stepping back a bit: you'll recall that back when he was on The Farm, Sherman's switch from wide receiver to cornerback was the subject of some urban legend-making. The official story is that between an injury and team need at defensive back, he joined the Stanford secondary. The insider scuttlebutt, however, was a rumor that Sherman (along with future Seattle teammate Doug Baldwin [‘11]) was persistently in Jim Harbaugh's doghouse. In an effort to escape the offense-minded Harbaugh, Sherman switched over to the defense and, specifically, cornerback. And the rest, as they say, is history...

That said, the Pro Bowl offered evidence that neither explanation is correct, and rather Sherman made the move because corner fit his skills better than wideout. Yes, he was a Freshman All-American wide receiver during his first year at Stanford, but still, consider the following:

Yes, Sherman lost 22 yards on the reverse play, getting tackled (amusingly) by his Seahawks teammate Bobby Wagner. So, yeah, he probably made the right choice in abandoning the offensive side and eventually becoming one of the best corners in football.

That aside, Sherman got the most notoriety for trying out pro wrestling moves on Green Bay linebacker (and USC alum) Clay Matthews. Check out his RKO attempt:

Never change, Sherm. Never change.