Roger Goodell let down by Pro Bowl

Updated: February 6, 2012, 10:45 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

The quality of play in this season's Pro Bowl has drawn criticism from fans, former players and at least one player who played in the game. On Sunday, commissioner Roger Goodell said you can add his name to the list of detractors.

In an appearance on ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike in the Morning" on Sunday, Goodell said the league must address the quality of the game and even said he would consider eliminating the all-star game if it can't be improved upon.

"I really didn't think that was the kind of football that we want to be demonstrating for our fans," Goodell said. "And you heard it from the fans. The fans were actively booing in the stands. They didn't like what they were seeing."

Goodell said something has to change.

"We're either going to have to improve the quality of what we're doing in the Pro Bowl or consider other changes or even considering eliminating the game if that's the kind of quality game we're going to provide," Goodell said.

Goodell said he talked to NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith about changes they need to make for the game.

"I know players love to be in Hawaii but we have to start with the quality of what we're doing," Goodell said. "If the fans are responding negatively to what we're doing, we better listen. And that was my message."

NFLPA spokesman George Atallah said Sunday via his Twitter account that the players don't want to lose the Pro Bowl from the annual schedule.

"The Pro Bowl is an important tradition; one that we as players want to keep," he wrote.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was named the NFL's MVP on Saturday, said this week that some of his NFC teammates "embarrassed themselves" with the effort they gave in the game.

"I was just surprised that some of the guys either didn't want to play or when they were in there didn't put any effort into it," Rodgers said.

Goodell If the fans are responding negatively to what we're doing, we better listen.

-- Roger Goodell

The AFC routed the NFC 59-41 in a game that drew boos at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu for its lack of early intensity. Rodgers, who started and played the first quarter for the NFC, didn't name specific players.

New England Patriots guard Logan Mankins, a four-time Pro Bowl selection who didn't play in the this year's game because his team is playing in the Super Bowl, said Wednesday that he doubts there's a realistic way to ramp up competitiveness.

"I don't know how you fix it," Mankins said. "You're going to give a little effort, but you're not going to get out of control. Some guys are free agents over there. You get hurt in a Pro Bowl and it's going to affect that contract with another team. Who would want to get hurt in a Pro Bowl and not be able to play the next season?"

Information from ESPN.com NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert and NFC West blogger Mike Sando was used in this report.

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