By FRANK WARD,
The game has yet to be played, but the results are in.
The NFL must move the Pro Bowl back to Hawaii after the Super Bowl.
There can be no other result of the NFL’s experiment in which the league moved the Pro Bowl to Miami as a kick off to Super Bowl week. Granted, the game has probably garnered more attention and publicity than at any time in the last decade. Viewership may even rise a bit. However, the game itself is far from a Pro Bowl.
The biggest issue is that Pro Bowlers from the Super Bowl teams can’t play in the game. The nerve of skipping an All-Star game for the chance to win a championship. Only idiots would do that.
Seriously, the NFL has screwed this up in two ways. First, you automatically lose Super Bowl participants, replacing them with players who are third and fourth alternates. Then, the NFL is forcing players on the Saints and Colts to travel to Miami a day earlier than their teams do just so they can be introduced and stand on the sidelines.
It serves zero purpose. Plus, it takes away from the team aspect of the Super Bowl as the Colts and Saints will likely now fly in without their star players. That is the biggest shame of all. The team earned the right to play for a title together and should fly to the Super Bowl together. Players could fly in for the Pro Bowl then back to their home city so they can arrive with their team. But, that is just asinine.
The NFL can argue all day long that they want the players at the Pro Bowl for the fans. But, playing the game at a time when they can’t participate anyway is already taking away from the fans experience. I doubt anyone at the stadium tonight is going to sit there with their eyes glued to Payton Manning so they can chart how many times he takes his hat off, or how many high fives he gives David Garrard.
Besides that, the fact is a whole host of players who wouldn’t and shouldn’t be Pro Bowlers are participating. The owners cry about money issues heading into the next CBA negotiations. I’m sure the owners all thrilled to shell out thousands of dollars in additional Pro Bowl bonuses. Not to mention the level of play will be lower.
You always have players pull out due to injury. However, this year the top four — FOUR — AFC quarterbacks will not be in the Pro Bowl. Tom Brady and Philip Rivers withdrew due to injury concerns. Payton Manning is in the Super Bowl. The first alternate, Ben Roethlisberger is also injured.
That leaves Vince Young, David Garrard and Matt Schaub as your AFC signal callers. Only Matt Schaub would even register as a good fantasy football quarterback. How this is your Pro Bowl QB rotation is beyond me.
Roger Goodell, this is what your experiment has done.
End it. Now.