Pro Bowl: Game no longer relevant
January, 26, 2013
By Kevin Seifert | ESPN.com
This week, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning offered a direct and impassioned plea to those surrounding him in a Hawaii ballroom. According to Jeff Darlington of the NFL Network, Manning asked players to give better effort in Sunday's Pro Bowl to preserve the long history of the game.
Of course, the audience Manning spoke to included only one of the five other quarterbacks originally elected to play. Both of the NFC's starting receivers, Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall, were missing after opting out of the game. All five of the NFC's original linebackers were missing, as well. One player who was in attendance, Green Bay Packers center Jeff Saturday, had such a poor season that he was benched with two games remaining in the regular season.
Tim Fuller/USA TODAY SportsDetroit's Calvin Johnson joins a long list of stars who will not participate in the Pro Bowl this year.
The Pro Bowl as currently constituted is beyond repair, even if Manning's plea leads to a short-term dose of intensity. The selection process is flawed, to say the least, and there will never be a long-term motivation to play hard as long as the risks far outweigh the rewards.
There are plenty of ways to bring together the NFL's best players for a week of postseason honors and entertainment. Attempting to stage a typically violent game, with players selected by highly unscientific measures, isn't one of them.
Instead of a game, why not gather players for a tropical week of (safe) skill and physical challenges that benefit the charity? How about mirroring a reality show to appeal to a broad audience? I would watch Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady compete, "Top Chef" style. And I wouldn't mind finding out whether Justin Smith or Ray Lewis would eat, say, more cockroaches for charity.
While they're at it, why not make the rosters of players more legitimate by tweaking the selection process? Including the kind of analytics that all NFL teams now use to evaluate players would seem a logical shift. The NFL might think it is empowering fans, players and coaches by giving them the full vote each year, but the results annually disappoint and anger those same groups in equal proportions.
There is no reason to preserve something that has run its course. The Pro Bowl is worthwhile as an event, but the centerpiece shouldn't be -- and doesn't need to be -- a game.
Final Atlanta 24 Jacksonville 14 Final Detroit 23 Buffalo 0 Final Indianapolis 7 Cincinnati 35 Final New York 7 Philadelphia 37 Final St. Louis 13 Miami 14 Final Kansas City 14 Green Bay 34 Final Carolina 10 Pittsburgh 0 Final New England 13 New York 16 Final Washington 24 Tampa Bay 10 Final Baltimore 22 New Orleans 13 Final Chicago 13 Cleveland 33 Final San Francisco 40 Houston 13 Final Minnesota 19 Tennessee 3 Final Denver 27 Dallas 3 Final Arizona 9 San Diego 12 Final Seattle 31 Oakland 41