SBD/Issue 94/Events & Attractions

NFLPA Leaders Express Frustration With Pro Bowl Changes

Mawae Says NFLPA Is Frustrated 
By Changes To Pro Bowl
NFLPA leaders yesterday "expressed frustration with the league changing" the location of the Pro Bowl this year and "positioning it before the Super Bowl," according to Sarah Talalay of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. Both Titans C and NFLPA President Kevin Mawae and NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith indicated that the union's concerns include "moving the game from Hawaii ... and depriving Super Bowl players from starring in their All-Star game." NFLPA officials also are "not pleased Super Bowl players must attend the game to receive their Pro Bowl pay." Mawae: "Some of those guys voiced their frustration because they want to be with their teams when they travel here on Monday, which is part of the Super Bowl experience." Mawae added, "It being a player issue, we really wish we had a bigger say so." But NFL VP/Communications Brian McCarthy said that the union and its player advisory council "were included before the Pro Bowl change for 2010 was announced in December 2008" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 1/28).

TRAVEL ISSUES APPEAR SETTLED: ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported the Colts and Saints "will fly their players to South Florida" for the Pro Bowl on a chartered jet that the NFL "will reimburse them" for. The seven Colts players will then "stay overnight" in South Florida and await the rest of the team to arrive on Monday "as opposed to flying back to Indianapolis and then returning" with the full team. Colts President Bill Polian has been outspoken regarding the need for the players who will not play in the game to attend Pro Bowl festivities, and Mortensen noted they were "contemplating not going to Miami as so mandated by the NFL." ESPN's Trey Wingo asked, "The league had to think these things might be coming when they did this logistically and put the game the week before the Super Bowl, right?" Mortensen said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell "just wanted to try this one time to see how it works and based on the early returns, it's got some problems" ("NFL Live," ESPN, 1/27). Meanwhile, Saints GM Mickey Loomis yesterday confirmed that the team's seven players who are scheduled to attend the Pro Bowl "will remain in the Miami area Sunday night, then be joined by their teammates Monday" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 1/28). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser noted Goodell is the son of a politician, and he "should understand that you count heads to find out if the bill is going to pass. There's no good that can come out of this" ("PTI," ESPN, 1/27).

McNabb Among Players That Are Not
Thrilled With New Pro Bowl Set-Up
BETTER FORMAT BEFORE: Eagles QB Donovan McNabb said, "It's unfortunate that it has to be before the Super Bowl because it doesn't do any justice for the guys who are playing in the Super Bowl game." Dolphins S Yeremiah Bell added, "The old format was better. I think guys like it that way. It's a little unfair for the guys who are playing in the Super Bowl who probably wanted to play in the Pro Bowl. I know they're going back to the old format next year and I think guys will be happy with that." ESPN's Wingo: "What they're saying, but they're not saying, is, 'We want to go to Hawaii!'" (“NFL Live,” ESPN, 1/27). In Miami, Greg Cote writes the Pro Bowl "stinks," and the NFL "needs to solve it, or scrap it." The NFL "rarely makes a misstep, a decision that fails so obviously, but this qualifies." Cote: "Kicking off Super Bowl Week with the Pro Bowl is like kicking off your vacation with rain" (MIAMI HERALD, 1/28). But Cowboys QB Tony Romo said, "There's something to be said for the game being played while football season is still going on" (NFL Network, 1/28).

TIME FOR A CHANGE? ESPN's Adam Schefter noted the league needs to "go away from the actual game." Schefter: "These are the biggest, fastest, strongest men in the world. … Showcase those talents. Have a 'Superstars'-like competition ... and let's see how fast (Titans RB) Chris Johnson is, let's see how strong some of these linemen are, let's see how far they can throw footballs. That's the way to drive interest in this event." Players' bodies are so beat up from the regular season that the "last thing they want to do is play in another physical, tough, demanding game." But ESPN's Mark Schlereth, who played in two Pro Bowls, said, "If it's not broke, don't fix it. ... It may be for three quarters not a very good game, but that fourth quarter -- when the difference between the winner's share and the loser's share is on the line -- a real game will break out" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 1/27). Meanwhile, in Virginia, Bob Molinaro wrote if Goodell "sticks with this year's scheduling format" in the future, it "can't help but warp the definition of what a Pro Bowl player really is." But the "bigger point is that All-Star games of all types, not just the Pro Bowl, are obsolete" (Norfolk VIRGINIAN-PILOT, 1/27).

OFFICIALLY SOLD OUT: NFL officials said that the game "has officially been declared a sellout with about 70,500 tickets sold," though some club seats and a "few single seats are still available" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 1/28). NFL Senior VP/Events Frank Supovitz Tuesday said that Sunday's game "will be the highest-attended Pro Bowl since 1959" (NFL.com, 1/27).

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