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Road to the Puppy Bowl Draft

The NFL Draft is taking place in downtown Chicago for the first time in more than 51 years this week, but the cutest competition already happened Wednesday afternoon on the North Side.

PAWS Chicago hosted the first Road to the Puppy Bowl Draft along with “Animal Planet” and the NFL Players Association, ahead of the NFL Draft.

Former Bear Alex Brown, Eric Winston of the Cincinnati Bengals, Carolina Panther Thomas Davis, and 14-year NFL veteran Jay Feely first toured the facility and met the pups available for the draft, including Julianne Peppers, Robbie Golden, Walter Playton and Troy Pawlamalu.

During the tour, the players snapped pictures of available dogs with their cellphones. Feely met a 3-month-old kitten the shelter named after him, Jay Fishly.

Tom Gimler, official puppy bowl referee for “Animal Planet,” snickered when he spotted the puppy named Brett Favre.

“They took the smallest dog possible and named him after Favre!” Gimler said.

The coveted first pick of the draft went to Winston and Davis — nicknamed “Team Ruff” — and they chose Charles “Peanut Butter” Tillman.

Chicago Bears Alum Alex Brown high fives "Eric Woofston" as Chicago Bears Placekicker Jay Feely looks on at the Road to the Puppy Bowl Draft. | James Foster for The Sun-Times

Chicago Bears Alum Alex Brown high-fives “Eric Woofston” as Chicago Bears Placekicker Jay Feely looks on at the Road to the Puppy Bowl Draft. | James Foster/For the Sun-Times

The players’ competitiveness kicked in when it came time to make their selections.

“He has some off-the-field issues, but we believe in him,” Alex Brown joked of his team’s selection of 1-month-old boxer Ronnie Lots of Treats.

Brown brought along his wife and two young daughters. The family already has two pets, one big dog and a little dog, his wife said.

Brown’s oldest daughter helped him make the final selection of the draft and chose Lick Butkus, a 3-month-old boxer mix.

"Barkus Allen" takes nap before the Road to the Puppy Bowl DraftApril 29, 2015. PAWS Chica | James Foster for The Sun-Times

“Barkus Allen” takes nap before the Road to the Puppy Bowl Draft. | James Foster/For the Sun-Times

Former Bear Anthony “Spice” Adams arrived a few minutes late to the draft, but selected Barkus Allen — arguably one of the tiniest pups at the shelter. When the ref chided Adams for his late arrival, Adams said he had come from an appearance at Lurie Children’s Hospital.

Thirty-nine pets were adopted Wednesday at Paws Chicago because of the draft, according to spokeswoman Sarah Ahlberg.

“The kind folks at Animal Planet and ASPCA will continue to cover the MVP animal adoption fees through the weekend as well. We are thrilled,” Ahlberg said.

One of the dogs up for adoption as part of the Road to the Puppy Bowl DraftDraft April 29, 2015. PAWS Chicago, | James Foster for The Sun-Times

One of the dogs up for adoption at PAWS Chicago as part of the Road to the Puppy Bowl Draft. | James Foster/For the Sun-Times

Paws Volunteer Alexis Fasseas puts a name up on the board. | James Foster for The Sun-Times

Paws Volunteer Alexis Fasseas puts a name up on the board. | James Foster/ For The Sun-Times

Erik Winston, Jay Freely and Alex Brown at theRoad to the Puppy Bowl Draft April 29, 2015. | James Foster for The Sun-Times

Erik Winston, Jay Freely and Alex Brown at the Road to the Puppy Bowl Draft. | James Foster/For the Sun-Times

Erik Winston and Thomas Davis look over the draft picks at the Road to the Puppy Bowl Draft April 29, 2015. | James Foster for The Sun-Times

Erik Winston and Thomas Davis look over the draft picks at the Road to the Puppy Bowl Draft. | James Foster/For the Sun-Times

Puppy Bowl "Rufferee" Tommy Gimler gives a scratch to "Mutt Ditkas" at the Road to the Puppy Bowl Draft April 29, 2015. | James Foster for The Sun-Times

Puppy Bowl “Rufferee” Tommy Gimler gives a scratch to “Mutt Ditkas” at the Road to the Puppy Bowl Draft. | James Foster for The Sun-Times

MVP "Fonswroth" before the Road to the Puppy Bowl DraftApril 20, 2015.  | James Foster for The Sun-Times

MVP “Fonswroth” before the Road to the Puppy Bowl Draft April 20, 2015. | James Foster for The Sun-Times

"Lick Buttkas" before the Road to the Puppy Bowl Draft April 29, 2015. | James Foster for The Sun-Times

Alex Brown’s oldest daughter helped him make the final selection of the draft and chose “Lick Butkus,” a 3-month-old boxer mix. | James Foster for The Sun-Times