The yearlong Pro Bowl narrative traces back to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers' critical comments about last year's game. So it's worth circling back with Rodgers after Sunday's game, based on early reviews, seemed to go better.
Speaking Tuesday on his ESPN 540 radio show, Rodgers acknowledged that he watched only part of the game, a 62-35 victory by the NFC. Of the portion he did watch, Rodgers chose his words carefully.
"I think there was a lot of talk about how hard the game was played," he said. "It seemed like that was one of the focuses for everyone involved, to talk about how hard the game was being played."
Indeed, the topic was a recurring theme during the NBC broadcast as well as in-game interviews. Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt, for instance, looked into the camera and said: "Hey, commish, we're playing hard," referring to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Rodgers was then asked whether the effort level in the game matched what was being discussed. He said: "I don't know. I'm not sure. I think in this case you maybe had to watch more of the game to have a good opinion on that. I don't want to comment on how hard it was played."
The NFL will spend some time deciding the Pro Bowl's future. My position remains unchanged. I would hate to see the game continue solely because of a perceived uptick in intensity from nonexistent to, at best, acceptable -- especially when the implicit threat of the game's cancellation appeared to be the primary motivating factor. There has to be a better way to honor the game's best players, right?