Pro Bowl evokes tradition, significance
Editor's note: Art Garfamudis originally wrote for Page 2 in 2008 before he retired to dedicate himself to preparing his safehouse for any number of civilization-threatening crises. The depletion of his potable water, dried food and ammunition has lured him out of retirement to again present his unique perspective on the sports world in a new column, Art for Art's Sake.
Ten questions about the Pro Bowl
It's Pro Bowl week, America. Are you prepared? I know where I'll be when the game starts: blasting away at pigeons with my trusty assault rifles in the privacy of my compound. When my last magazine is spent, though, you can be sure I'll drift into the TV shed and take in the game.
What should we make of it, though? In olden times, football players and teams partook in a lot more exhibition contests than they do now. To help explain what the fascination is with these non-counters, let's answer some questions ...
1. Should fans care about the Pro Bowl?
Of course they should. It's football, isn't it? Football in any form should interest a real fan. If two toddlers in a kiddie pool are wrestling over a half dog-chewed Nerf football, a real football fan should stop and watch. Anyone who wouldn't is just a poser.
2. How are the Pro Bowl participants selected?
By fans in the largest markets and by a popularity contest among the players.
3. Has a Cowboy ever tackled a Giant during the Pro Bowl, just through force of habit?
Not since they started implanting the identity chips under the players' skin in 1984.
4. Why is the game played in Hawaii?
Why, indeed? I have long called for the United States to abandon its Pacific holdings. They lead to nothing but trouble (see World War II). The sooner we clear out of these seductive paradises, the better we'll be. People weren't meant to live on islands anyway. It leads to madness. You want proof? Look at those statues on Easter Island. You'd have to be crazy to make all of those things. If this means holding the Pro Bowl on the mainland, so be it.
Mostly it's played there because the NFL feels guilty that its players don't make enough money to have vacations of their own. They reward the very best of them with a free trip because those players are about to start their offseason jobs, and the league wants to give them a nice sendoff.
5. Why doesn't the NFL institute a "this game counts" element like MLB in order to increase excitement?
Frankly, they're afraid of being accused of playing copycat to baseball. Sure, they've seen what a success it's been in the Midsummer Classic, and they'd love to snatch the idea for their own. The NFL has a lot of pride, though -- maybe too much in this case.
Here's this writer's compromise solution: Now that the game is played prior to the Super Bowl, have the Pro Bowl outcome determine the coin toss before the Super Bowl. NFC wins Pro Bowl? Giants get to pick how they want to start things off in the Super Bowl.
6. In the old days they made the respective Pro Bowl teams wear 'A' and 'N' helmets instead of their own. Why did they change that?
It confused television viewers. They didn't know what they were watching. A lot of them thought it was the first game of an upstart pro league, and maybe Atlanta was playing Nashville or something like that. People were simpler then. Abstract concepts were beyond them. We've evolved -- which is not an endorsement of evolution. I'm staying neutral on that subject until there's more evidence from either side.
7. How happy are the Pro Bowl coaching staffs to be there?
They're relieved because they don't have to plan for the Super Bowl. Look how relaxed they are compared to the coaches who are stuck gaming the big one. No contest. They know they've got it good.
8. What are some of the special rules for the game?
• Players from opposing conferences may shower together, but not on game day
• Thrown balls must not exceed 20 miles per hour
• Shoes must be worn on the wrong foot to limit mobility and acceleration
• All linemen must wear two cups
• To avoid injury, kickers will pantomime field goal attempts
• The neutral zone is five yards
• A player is considered down when he can feel the breath of an opponent anywhere on his person
9. Is "Blue Crush" the best Pro Bowl-related film of all time?
Yes, right up until the moment they make the next one.
10. What will the final score be on Sunday?
NFC 117, AFC 103
Artemis Arthur Garfamudis originally studied typing at the Miss DuPrix School of Business on Route 22 in North Plainfield, N.J. He has since taken several refresher typing courses. It is with great pride that he types all his own columns.
Follow Art Garfamudis on Twitter @artgarfamudis ... if you dare.