Chariton native and Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson achieved a huge honor by being selected to the 2021 NFL Pro Bowl this past week. It was the first Pro Bowl selection for Hockenson, who is in his second year with Detroit.
Hockenson is the son of Tod and Teri Hockenson of Chariton and a 2016 graduate of Chariton High School.
Hockenson caught 60 passes this season for the Lions for 675 yards and six touchdowns. He had an 11.3 yards per catch average. Before being drafted by Detroit, Hockenson was a star and All-Big Ten tight end for the University of Iowa Hawkeyes in 2017 and 2018.
Hockenson made history by being selected #8 overall in the first round by the Lions in the 2019 NFL Draft. He became the first player ever from Chariton and Lucas County to be drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft and now is likely the first player from Chariton to ever be selected to the NFL Pro Bowl.
Ross Pierschbacher, who was born in Chariton and was a starting offensive lineman for the National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide in college, was drafted by the Washington Football Team in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Pierschbacher recently signed with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Hockenson received the most Pro Bowl votes of any NFC (National Football Conference) tight end and was selected to be the starting tight end for the NFC. The other tight end selected for the NFC in the Pro Bowl was Evan Engram of the New York Giants.
The 2021 NFL Pro Bowl game was originally scheduled to be played Jan. 31 in Las Vegas, but was cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
According to The NFL Network, instead of having an actual game this year, the NFL is working with EA Sports to create a series of virtual programming, including creating a virtual Pro Bowl game with 2021 Pro Bowl players playing within Madden NFL 21.