Does the Pro Bowl mean anything?
So last Sunday saw the Pro Bowl, or as the right honourable Denis Crawford beautifully describes it "Dancing with celebrities in pads", but has this game become a bit of a joke?
Everywhere you look on any NFL output over the last week there is videos, pictures or interviews from Hawaii as Jason Witten enjoys a Mojito by the pool or Peyton Manning relaxs in a hammock.
I watch this type of thing and think, "Nice work if you can get it..." but really do the pros hoenstly care about being at the Pro Bowl? Sure its a nice holiday with the wife and kids in Hawaii, all expenses paid, but whats the point?
Since the rules were changed last year the Pro Bowl now falls the week before the Super Bowl and no players from either team competing for the Vince Lombardi trophy the following week are involved. Considering that invariably each year at least some of the season's stars will be in that game surely this detracts from the Allstar game before its even started.
Can you imagine if in 2002 after Tampa Bay had swept away all in their path and won the World Championship that the Pro Bowl that year would not have seen any members of possibly the best defensive unit ever put together? No Derrick Brooks, Simeon Rice, John Lynch or Shelton Quarles?
The NFC would barely of had a defense to start the game. That season the story was the Raiders O and the Buccaneers D, imagine a Pro Bowl without either of them? What's the point?
The Pro Bowl is as much of a beer and giggles event as there is in professional sport in the World. I actually quite enjoy the game itself, except all the massive pauses between plays while the latest star rolls onto the field, as it tends to be full of trick plays, big throws and it is nice to watch a game of football without seeing the look of a killer in every player's eyes.
In past years the league have tried to involve fans more in the Pro Bowl experience, even letting them call plays via a poll, but one thing that has distorted the rosters is that the public now form a big percentage of the voting for the different roster spots.
This leads invariably to the teams with the biggest fan base Cowgirls, Belicheats' Army and the Steelers amongst others to vote on mass. Surprised the Buccaneers were largely snubbed after THAT season that was? You shouldn't be.
In the past the Pro Bowl was a badge of honour for players to be referred to as a "Pro Bowler". Derrick Brooks being named to 10 successive Pro Bowls just adds more weight to his case for a first round entry into Canton. Ronde Barber with five Pro Bowls as well as numerous other records is another who can proudly talk about his Hawaiian odessey.
Players like Davin Joseph, Clifton Smith and this year Donald Penn are all players who have been to the Pro Bowl, and may well never go again, but been there got the T-shirt. For players I'm sure it means something but as an outsider looking in I just can't help but think what a waste of money, time and effort.
There are however stories involving Pro Bowl selection that really do warm the cockles of your heart. In 2006 fifteen year veteran Dave Moore played in the Pro Bowl as the long snapper for the NFC, it was clear to most that this gesture by coach Sean Payton was more of a thank you and well done to the former Dolphin, Bill and Buccaneer than a true reflection of his play that year but in this case I would imagine that being on the NFC's Pro Bowl roster meant the world to Dave Moore.
I'm all for some kind of Allstar game and think it would be a great idea for the Premier League to adopt in England as a season ending event but just make it relevant and include the Super Bowl teams, don't let the public choose the teams and most of all no more shots of Ray Lewis and Co lapping it up in Hawaii please NFL Network its bloody freezing here and you're just making it worse!