SBD/Issue 93/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Colts' Polian Upset At NFL Making Players Attend Pro Bowl Events

Polian Calls NFL's Pro Bowl Requirements
"Stupid" And A "Distraction"
Colts President Bill Polian Monday called the NFL requiring players from the two Super Bowl teams to travel to Miami to participate in Pro Bowl-related events “stupid” and a “distraction.” Polian noted the team will practice today through Friday, and the seven Pro Bowl players will have Saturday off. Polian: “If it weren’t for the Pro Bowl disruption, they would have the weekend off, but they can’t because we have to send those players to Miami to do Lord knows what. We’ll come back and practice on Sunday and the Pro Bowl players will go and do whatever they have to do and then the team will leave on Monday.” When asked by ESPN Radio’s Dan Dakich if those players will fly to Miami and then fly back later on Sunday, Polian said, “I don’t know that they fly them back. I think they plan to keep them down there that evening. They haven’t even told us yet what this is all about. We don’t even have any details or anything like that.” Meanwhile, Colts DE Dwight Freeney injured his ankle late in the AFC Championship game Sunday, and Polian described his status for the Super Bowl as “optimistic.” He added Freeney will need some treatment, and that “enters into the Pro Bowl equation.” Polian: “Do we send him down there to stand around for three hours, or does he get treatment?” ("The Dan Dakich Show," ESPN Radio 1070 Indianapolis, 1/25). FOXSPORTS.com's Alex Marvez cited a source as saying that the Colts players "will leave at halftime to rejoin their ... teammates in Indianapolis" before flying back to Miami Monday morning. An NFL spokesperson said that the players "are allowed to leave the Pro Bowl at halftime after fulfilling media and television responsibilities." It is unclear if the seven Saints players "will stay for the entire Pro Bowl" (FOXSPORTS.com, 1/26).

BOWLING FOR PLAYERS: In Miami, Adam Beasley wrote under the header, "NFL All-Star Game Not So Super." The Pro Bowl, which is being played the week before the Super Bowl for the first time, "still has some sizzle," but the conference championships "certainly took a few molars out of the Pro Bowl's bite." Colts and Saints players are exempt from playing in the game, and in addition to players replaced due to injury, just "29 of the original 44 position players chosen to be starters will be on the field." The game's talent level "has been significantly diluted," and the "drop-off in top-line stars won't do anything to help the lackluster interest in the Pro Bowl" (MIAMI HERALD, 1/26). In Honolulu, Ferd Lewis wrote the game is "becoming more of a junior varsity game, even as far as Pro Bowls go." Five of the six QBs originally selected to play in the game -- Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers -- will not be on the active roster (HONOLULU ADVERTISER, 1/26). In Dallas, Rick Gosselin wrote there were 84 players initially named to the Pro Bowl rosters, and 31 players "not voted to the teams have since been added." Gosselin: "That's 115 players who will be walking around NFL locker rooms in 2010 with the designation 'Pro Bowler.' Kind of takes the luster off the honor, doesn't it?" (DALLASNEWS.com, 1/26). SPORTINGNEWS.com's Dan Levy: "They're all pros, but they're hardly All-Stars at this point" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 1/25).

JUST END THE THING ALL TOGETHER: In Miami, Greg Cote wrote under the header, "No More Excuses: It's Time To Ditch The Pro Bowl." Cote: "It has become a sham. ... What is the point of having a Pro Bowl that supposedly is a legit all-star game if the best players from the best teams (in the Super Bowl) are automatically excluded, and so many others say no for no good reason?" (MIAMI HERALD, 1/24). In Pittsburgh, Bob Smizik wrote, "This is a game that should be eliminated starting yesterday," as the Pro Bowl "stands light years ahead of other all-star games for absolute nothingness." Smizik: "Anyone foolish enough to have purchased a ticket for this event, should be outraged by the assembled talent. [NFL Commissioner Roger] Goodell should be embarrassed" (POST-GAZETTE.com, 1/26). Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said, "Moving it to before the Super Bowl, you just lose more players than all the players who beg out with injuries. It's a bad game" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 1/25).

SOME FAR-FLUNG IDEAS: Denver Post columnist Woody Paige said, "There are ways to correct this problem, but playing it in South Florida before the Super Bowl is a gigantic, ridiculous mistake." Paige: "Move it to Hawaii (and) you blacklist the players if they don't show up. You don't let them get their Pro Bowl bonuses if they don't play in the game" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 1/25). Meanwhile, SPORTINGNEWS.com's Mike Florio wrote one "viable remedy exists for making it matter much more than it currently does. Play it in August." Florio: "Why not make the Pro Bowl the first game of the preseason instead of the last game of the postseason? It can be played in Canton, in place of or in addition to the Hall of Fame game. And though no one would confuse the northeastern corner of Ohio with the southeastern shores of Oahu, the carrot for the players wouldn't be a free vacation, but a free pass from training camp practices" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 1/25).

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