Pro Bowl not worth a serious injury

January, 27, 2014
Jan 27
9:19
AM ET
It’s a safe bet that if new Browns coach Mike Pettine or anyone else in the organization was watching the Pro Bowl, their hearts skipped a beat early in the second quarter.

That was when Josh Gordon ran a reverse and safety T.J. Ward torpedoed Gordon for the tackle. The result sent Gordon flipping head over heels.

Great drama, especially for a practice game.

Except the hit from Ward looked pretty close to the hit that demolished the knee of New England tight end Rob Gronkowski. Had Gordon been planted or extended, the result easily could have been a serious injury to the Browns premier player.

Ward went low, knee level. Just like he did to Gronkowski. Luckily for Gordon and the Browns, Gordon was able to see Ward coming and he jumped just before the hit, which resulted in the flip (the play is at the 50 second mark here).

Which shows the folly of the game, and the folly of the league’s publicity ploy that wound up having teammates play teammates (or teammates playing soon-to-be-free-agent-teammates) in a game that is supposed to approximate preseason play.

All the Browns would have needed would have been for the Gordon to be lost for the season with a knee injury in the Pro Bowl.

That it could have happened shows how silly the game has become, prime time draft or no prime time draft. It’s essentially is a Hawaiian vacation to the league’s best players with a sort-of-game at the end of the week, a game where nobody is supposed to get hurt.

Imagine the feelings in Cleveland had Gordon been injured.

The NFL’s newest format received positive reviews -- Tropical Thriller was the way that NFL.com labeled the game, an alliterative form of hyperbole if ever there was one -- but it’s still a practice game.

Gordon’s numbers and the touchdown passes caught by Gordon and Jordan Cameron were impressive. It was a great experience for the Browns six Pro Bowlers -- Gordon, Cameron, Alex Mack, Joe Haden, Joe Thomas and Ward.

But it sure wouldn’t have been worth an injury, especially from a teammate.

Pat McManamon

ESPN Cleveland Browns reporter

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