NFL Pro Bowl open thread

posted at 3:31 pm on January 27, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

The game starts at 7 ET (NBC), if one can call it a game at all. Supposedly, this year the NFL Pro Bowl will feature tougher competition rather than the defense-free patty-cake of the last several contests.  In fact, the games that usually take place in Honolulu seem more to Barack Obama’s taste:

“I’m a big football fan, but I have to tell you if I had a son, I’d have to think long and hard before I let him play football,” says the president of the United States, the father of two young girls. “And I think that those of us who love the sport are going to have to wrestle with the fact that it will probably change gradually to try to reduce some of the violence. In some cases, that may make it a little bit less exciting, but it will be a whole lot better for the players, and those of us who are fans maybe won’t have to examine our consciences quite as much.”

Obama, who is known more of a basketball player than a football enthusiast, continues, “I tend to be more worried about college players than NFL players in the sense that the NFL players have a union, they’re grown men, they can make some of these decisions on their own, and most of them are well-compensated for the violence they do to their bodies. You read some of these stories about college players who undergo some of these same problems with concussions and so forth and then have nothing to fall back on. That’s something that I’d like to see the NCAA think about.”

I don’t disagree with Obama on this, but I think the problem is the helmets.  The helmets allow defensive players to use their heads as battering rams, with the sense of invincibility they appear to provide.  Even running backs dip their heads when attempting to run through a defender; we saw that play in the AFC championship, where the Patriots running back fumbled the ball after sustaining a concussion, a turnover that all but ensured the Ravens’ victory.  Maybe it’s time to go back to leather helmets, perhaps in the NCAA especially, in order to remind players that they aren’t guided missiles.  Rugby players don’t use helmets, and I don’t think they sustain nearly the kind of head injuries seen in the NFL.

My son had zero interest in playing football anyway, even as a pick-up game.  If I had a grandson, I’d think long and hard before encouraging him to play the game in an organized league.

Back to the Pro Bowl, though.  The game has become so lame that a lot of people wonder why they even bother to play it.  ESPN has two perspectives on the issue, with Bill Williamson saying it can be fixed:

I also think the league needs to put the game at the end of the season again. I know the game has gotten some good television ratings in this current format, and that is vital to the league. But the product will be better if players from the Super Bowl get a chance to play.

It was always a cool tradition when the players from the winning team showed up every Wednesday to a ton of island fanfare. Without the Super Bowl players available, it dilutes the talent base even more. Every year, players bail out because of injuries, whether they are big or small. Why build in another way to lose talent?

I agree — it’s a bad start to an all-star game when players from the two best teams can’t show up.  But even those who do show up in person aren’t showing up in spirit:

Of course, one of the biggest issues for why the Pro Bowl has lost interest is the quality of play. The action isn’t exactly fierce. Green Bay quarterbackAaron Rodgers has complained about the effort level of some players in the game.

This week, Denver quarterback Peyton Manning gave a speech to the Pro Bowl players to play hard during the game to ensure they all get the opportunity to go to future Pro Bowls.

Kevin Seifert writes that the audience to which Manning gave his homily points out why the game should be dumped:

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.

It’s just like the game itself — no one “shows up.” Maybe the competition shouldn’t be in football, Seifert suggests:

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.

Ugh.  I doubt that will get the ratings or the ad revenue the NFL needs, or at least I hope not.  And I’m talking about watching Rodgers and Brady cook food.

This time, it’s really different, the NFL assures us.  This time, we’ll see the NFL’s best (except for the players who managed to actually get to the Super Bowl) seriously compete for the honor of their conferences.  My prediction, which isn’t going to count for my season tally: AFC 58, NFC 49.

You don’t really need that ESPN widget for this one, do you?  Didn’t think so.  Instead, let’s put up this poll:

 

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Is this hypothetical Obama son the one who looks like Trayvon Martin, or are we talking about a different son?

Oh, and BISHOP!

JimLennon on January 27, 2013 at 3:33 PM

…I want a college basketball thread!

KOOLAID2 on January 27, 2013 at 3:33 PM

…so how did JudEars get his permanent concussion?

KOOLAID2 on January 27, 2013 at 3:35 PM

What Difference Does It Make????

redguy on January 27, 2013 at 3:40 PM

Maybe it’s time to go back to leather helmets, perhaps in the NCAA especially, in order to remind players that they aren’t guided missiles. Rugby players don’t use helmets, and I don’t think they sustain nearly the kind of head injuries seen in the NFL.

As originally played in college, at the start of the last century, there were no helmets and there were deaths on the field. It got so bad that there was speculation that Teddy Roosevelt might ban the game altogether (though what power a president has to ban a sport is unknown.)

I don’t have a problem with the lack of defense in the Pro Bowl, don’t want a career ending injury — which can happen in baseball too, just ask Ray Fosse. Maybe make it two hand touch?

rbj on January 27, 2013 at 3:40 PM

Roach eating!!!!!!

YEAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

BallisticBob on January 27, 2013 at 3:47 PM

If it’s half as lame as the NBA’s all-star game, it should summarily dumped.

KS Rex on January 27, 2013 at 3:48 PM

How about a Pro-Am game? Pick a team of amateurs to play the Pros. Now that would be something.

OT – Somehow it’s not so cute when Obama does it.

bloggless on January 27, 2013 at 3:48 PM

Ed’s right. If you:

- Banned all body armor aside from shin pads
- Sped the game up by eliminating all the beer commercial breaks
- Ban tackles above the chest

70% of the players would fail a PFT in certain units.

You’d end up with guys who were fitter, faster, and safer than your average football player.

There’s a lot of big boys and wannabes on the field, boys who I am quite certain would not be viable players if you did the above.

It’s never going to happen though.

CorporatePiggy on January 27, 2013 at 3:49 PM

Is this the Puppy Bowl thread ?

Lucano on January 27, 2013 at 3:53 PM

Make it a skills contest based on position.

Or make them run the Wipeout! TV show course. With John and John capping on the players, of course.

MunDane68 on January 27, 2013 at 3:58 PM

Is there not any NEWS to report? We have to have FOOTBALL nonsense on hotair.com ?

TX-96 on January 27, 2013 at 3:58 PM

If Obama had a son, he’d be too big a pussy to play football.
Too bad, since his mother’s built like a linebacker.

teacherman on January 27, 2013 at 4:02 PM

I guess calling Obama’s fictious son too much a p*ssy to play football offends HA’s comment censors? But we can be called every name under the sun by the trolls who get paid to post here. Eff this site. It’s been good knowing you all.

teacherman on January 27, 2013 at 4:07 PM

I wish American thought long and hard before it elected to most radical, extreme President in our history..that’s what I Wish Mr. President!

sadsushi on January 27, 2013 at 4:09 PM

Who cares…A bunch of rich primadonnas who probably voted for his and her highness…..Teacherman nailed it…moochelle has more testosterone

crosshugger on January 27, 2013 at 4:10 PM

Let’s play Sarcastaball!

RadClown on January 27, 2013 at 4:11 PM

OT:

http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2013/01/iranian-regime-sentences-us-pastor-to-eight-years-in-prison/#comments

this needs a separate topic…The Obama regime did nothing to help an American citizen and his family on this..more treasonous actions by him

sadsushi on January 27, 2013 at 4:12 PM

Is there not any NEWS to report? We have to have FOOTBALL nonsense on hotair.com ?

TX-96 on January 27, 2013 at 3:58 PM

There’s a football thread on HotAir every Sunday during the football season. Pay attention.

joejm65 on January 27, 2013 at 4:14 PM

Is there not any NEWS to report? We have to have FOOTBALL nonsense on hotair.com ?

TX-96 on January 27, 2013 at 3:58 PM

Yet here you are, not only reading, but commenting on the one football thread out of dozens of NEWS threads. Is it because you don’t like football or you don’t like that other people like football?

RadClown on January 27, 2013 at 4:19 PM

Someone wake me when it’s over.

CW on January 27, 2013 at 4:25 PM

but I have to tell you if I had a son, …

Funny, he says that quite often. Almost makes you think that he is not so satisfied with the fact he only has daughters.

AZfederalist on January 27, 2013 at 4:28 PM

I’m with you on the leather helmets. It will also make the game that much more interesting.

BigGator5 on January 27, 2013 at 4:33 PM

They should keep the Pro Bowl under the following conditions:

1. Move it until after the SB, with mandatory attendance and a panel made up of league/NFLPA doctors required for approval of medical absences;

2. The winning conference’s representative in the next SB gets to receive the opening AND second-half kickoffs, no coin tosses;

3. The winning conference’s team members in the PB each receive $100,000 participation bonus and an extra $50,000 each for O and D MVPs, and an extra $50,000 for the overall MVP.

4. During the week of the PB, have skill contests designed for the various positions, with the winners of these receiving appropriate bonuses.

TXUS on January 27, 2013 at 4:53 PM

7-11pm
4 hours????????????????
What’s the over/under number for the total of commercials and replays?

50sGuy on January 27, 2013 at 4:57 PM

How to “fix” the Pro Bowl? Let us count the ways, and debunk some of them along the way.

1. Play the game someplace else. Except they tried this several years ago and it’s now back in Hawai’i.

2. Generate more local interest in the game. Only problem is, if you’re in Hawai’i at 2 PM on a Sunday afternoon, are you really going to go to a football game?

As it is, many of these games feature a lot of empty seats. This year they actually sold enough to lift the local blackout. but it’s still not a sellout.

3. Get a new stadium. Aloha Stadium was built just a few years after Dear Leader allegedly was born just down the road in Waki Waki Beach, and it definitely shows its age.

4. Move the game 24 hours earlier. For most people, Sunday is a work night.

Of course they could also try doing what the other pro sports do, namely play the game at the mid-point of the regular season. But the chances of that happening are about as good as Dear Leader being impeached.

Del Dolemonte on January 27, 2013 at 5:05 PM

“I’m a big football fan, but I have to tell you if I had a son, I’d have to think long and hard before I let him play football,” says the president of the United States, the father of two young girls. “And I think that those of us who love the sport are going to have to wrestle with the fact that it will probably change gradually to try to reduce some of the violence. In some cases, that may make it a little bit less exciting, but it will be a whole lot better for the players, and those of us who are fans maybe won’t have to examine our consciences quite as much.”

I think we can all agree that there is health risk when a football player steps out on the field. This is no different than any other contact sport. Instead of changing the game, players should be educated on the risk that they are taking. Besides, creating rules to make the game “safer” will only do but so much. I’ve seen football players get seriously hurt and never even made contact with another player. Do we really want to see pro ball turn into pro flag football?

They should keep the Pro Bowl under the following conditions:

1. Move it until after the SB, with mandatory attendance and a panel made up of league/NFLPA doctors required for approval of medical absences;

2. The winning conference’s representative in the next SB gets to receive the opening AND second-half kickoffs, no coin tosses;

3. The winning conference’s team members in the PB each receive $100,000 participation bonus and an extra $50,000 each for O and D MVPs, and an extra $50,000 for the overall MVP.

4. During the week of the PB, have skill contests designed for the various positions, with the winners of these receiving appropriate bonuses.

TXUS on January 27, 2013 at 4:53 PM

Great idea. Give the players something to actually play for and you will definitely see better competition.

al_einstein on January 27, 2013 at 5:18 PM

Rugby players don’t use helmets,

Damn straight. Or any other pads for that matter. We also play 80 mins without a break every 30 seconds.

Jackalope on January 27, 2013 at 5:18 PM

ESPN. Ed Spins Pointless Nonsense.

Rusty Allen on January 27, 2013 at 5:29 PM

I wouldn’t let my imaginary son play football; it’s just too masculine and violent. – King B. Hussein’O

Pork-Chop on January 27, 2013 at 5:58 PM

Based on the logo and trophy design, they should call it the Stargate Bowl.

zmdavid on January 27, 2013 at 6:23 PM

Damn straight. Or any other pads for that matter. We also play 80 mins without a break every 30 seconds.

Jackalope on January 27, 2013 at 5:18 PM

Aren’t there also restrictions on certain types of tackling?

a capella on January 27, 2013 at 6:32 PM

If they keep it they have to make it count like MLB did with their baseball game. The outcome matters.

Not sure how you would do that in football – maybe the winner determines who gets the ball the second half of the super bowl?

gophergirl on January 27, 2013 at 6:35 PM

Is this the Puppy Bowl thread ?

Lucano on January 27, 2013 at 3:53 PM

The Puppy Bowl needs more bulldogs. And it hasn’t been the same since Harry Kalas passed away.

Myron Falwell on January 27, 2013 at 6:45 PM

If they keep it they have to make it count like MLB did with their baseball game. The outcome matters.

Not sure how you would do that in football – maybe the winner determines who gets the ball the second half of the super bowl?

gophergirl on January 27, 2013 at 6:35 PM

I have a real issue with how Selig messed up the World Series. The intent was to alternate between the NL and AL so as to make home-field advantage somewhat moot (at least by 1903 standards). It would have held up today.

Instead, the lopsided nature of how free-agents disperse to teams in the off-season lead to an seven-game winning streak for the AL. Before the switch, the AL had a 11-3-1 record against the NL. Plus the “this time it counts” marketing device fell flat after a few years. I highly doubt that the players actually think about if their league will get home-field advantage during the course of the game. As a wise man once said, you play to win the game.

But Selig HAD to fix something that wasn’t broken simply due to his calling a freaking tie at Miller Park, looking like an idiot in his hometown of Milwaukee.

And the BIGGEST difference is, the All-Star Game has always been a point of honor in the middle of the MLB season. The Pro Bowl has been a virtual throwaway ever since it was conceived decades ago.

Myron Falwell on January 27, 2013 at 6:59 PM

How about a Pro-Am game? Pick a team of amateurs to play the Pros. Now that would be something.

bloggless on January 27, 2013 at 3:48 PM

They did a version of that up until the 1960s, with college all-stars playing the NFL champ.

Steve Eggleston on January 27, 2013 at 7:04 PM

Is there not any NEWS to report? We have to have FOOTBALL nonsense on hotair.com ?
TX-96 on January 27, 2013 at 3:58 PM

Yet here you are, not only reading, but commenting on the one football thread out of dozens of NEWS threads. Is it because you don’t like football or you don’t like that other people like football?
RadClown on January 27, 2013 at 4:19 PM

Sgt. Hulka would be more concise with TX-96.

whatcat on January 27, 2013 at 7:12 PM

Come on. They want to inject more excitement into this bad boy and they open up with “Hey Soul Sister” on a ukelele. -Facepalm-

Really, they ought to play a Bronze Medal Game between the AFC and NFC runners up. (Pats – Falcons) with 21st draft pick up for grabs (ie the best of all the playoff teams).

Greek Fire on January 27, 2013 at 7:14 PM

Take away all the rigid pads and helmets and change the tackle rules so that shoulder charges are illegal and you will have a much safer game. Football, like Rugby, is a contact sport and there will always be injuries and concussions will always be an issue in both sports but you can make career ending injuries rarer while still keeping the contact aggressive and entertaining.

Aren’t there also restrictions on certain types of tackling?

a capella on January 27, 2013 at 6:32 PM

Yes in rugby a legal tackle means a binding tackle rather than a shoulder charge. Watch some rugby videos and you can see that you can still really put a guy down and break ribs and make a fair tackle. I played and coached a USMC rugby side in Europe. We had more injuries than other teams because it was difficult to train guys away from charging tackles to wrapping bind tackles. The tackler is the more likely guy to pick up an injury when making tackles using the head and charging through the other player without a bind. It’s a real art that takes a certain amount of training/experience to perfect but after a few games and some rather innovative and punishing inculcation techniques we managed to play fair while leaving our mark on opposing players.

Here is a quick guide to legal rugby tackling.

This is how it looks when the guy you are tackling has done something to really upset you.

lexhamfox on January 27, 2013 at 7:18 PM

Come on. They want to inject more excitement into this bad boy and they open up with “Hey Soul Sister” on a ukelele. -Facepalm-
Greek Fire on January 27, 2013 at 7:14 PM

Sacrificing a virgin to appease the Volcano Gods would have been the only way to go for the opening ceremony. If they could find a virgin, that is.

whatcat on January 27, 2013 at 7:25 PM

lexhamfox on January 27, 2013 at 7:18 PM

Thanks. I enjoy watching it tremendously and much prefer it to our football….just don’t understand all the rules.:)

a capella on January 27, 2013 at 7:32 PM

a capella on January 27, 2013 at 7:32 PM

From what I can tell most test level referees don’t know the rules either so don’t worry.

The Six Nations tournament starts next weekend. Can’t wait. Here is a good video of an entire classic match you might enjoy.

lexhamfox on January 27, 2013 at 7:44 PM

How cool was it that the NFC center hiked the ball to Payton Manning.

Played a long time with him before he was traded to the Packers.

Barred on January 27, 2013 at 8:05 PM

Decent enough game.

rbj on January 27, 2013 at 9:01 PM

A big Sloppy SNARK F- to the ABC announcing crew of Al Michaels and Crissy Collinsworth, for whining that only 2 of the 6 New England Patriots players selected chose to play in tonight’s game. They both implied it was due to bitterness on their part after last week’s loss, but if they had done their research it was because much of the team has been sick with the FLU.

Never let the facts get in the way…

Del Dolemonte on January 27, 2013 at 9:39 PM

Del Dolemonte on January 27, 2013 at 9:39 PM

The Pro Bowl is so bad, it wound up on ABC instead of NBC.

Myron Falwell on January 27, 2013 at 10:28 PM

I haven’t read the comments so someone may have said this already.

The pro bowl is a good microcosm of society at large.

Everyone is a winner. Whether one tries or not, whether one wins or not, whether one succeeds or fails, it makes no difference. Everyone still gets a free trip to Hawaii for themselves and their families. Everyone still gets tens of thousands of dollars.

The difference between what you get if you play hard and win, or if you sit on your ass and lose is not at all motivating.

… So no one plays hard. No one tries. The product is crap.

As a country, we’re all going to the pro bowl shortly.

jaime on January 28, 2013 at 3:01 AM

Okay, so here’s what you do:

First, play the game at the beginning of the exhibition season, with last year’s NFL All-Stars. Play all out – make it a real football game, none of this standing around while an extra point is kicked. If it’s the first game of the exhibition season, put it in Canton, and replace the Hall of Fame game (which is worthless anyway because it only really features third and fourth string players who won’t make the team). And the outcome of the game decides the opening coin toss at that season’s Super Bowl. Like the outcome of the MLB All-Star Game affects home-field advantage for the World Series. And if it’s at the beginning of the exhibition season, it’ll generate big ratings for the NFL that might carry through the season.

Second idea: Force every team to have a bye week 8 weeks into the regular season, and play the Pro Bowl during the bye. Rotate the venue. Get it out of Hawai’i for good, because as much as these guys get paid they don’t need a free vacation.

And, you know what? Injuries happen, in sports and in real life. Is the government going to ban extension ladders because people can fall off their roofs? How about forcing pitchers to wear batting helmets in case they get hit in the head (a la Brandon McCarthy of the A’s last season)? How about banning bicycles? Oh, wait, you’ll need a bike when your Chevy Volt bursts into flames.

Stuff happens. A person could slip in the shower and suffer a concussion. Are they gonna ban showers? People could choke on broccoli. Are they gonna ban broccoli? American football is, by its nature, a violent sport. The rules in place and the equipment being used are sufficient to prevent serious injury. It’s up to the players to observe and follow the rules. I don’t know why I keep coming back to this, but rules and regulations (and laws) are useless unless people show some responsibility – and if they were responsible in the first place, we wouldn’t need as many rules and regulations (and laws).

falcon on January 28, 2013 at 8:48 AM

The morning co-host at 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland, Chuck Booms, has been passionately correlating the decline of the Pro Bowl to the decline of American society in general. I can’t argue with that…

Myron Falwell on January 28, 2013 at 9:13 AM