Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie "made conciliatory remarks during a surprise appearance at a Pro Bowl news conference," as the state is negotiating with the NFL "in hopes of keeping the Pro Bowl in Honolulu," according to Brooks Baehr of KGMB-CBS. Abercrombie said, "Despite any stories to the contrary, the relationship is solid and we hope is going to stay that way for the benefit of everybody." He added, "We've had an excellent relationship with the Pro Bowl here over the years and we would like to continue to have it and we're going to do everything we can to continue to make sure that that comes about." Baehr noted the governor's tone was "very different in June when, during a press conference at the state capitol, he lamented not having money for early childhood education but having to pay the NFL $4 million to stage the 2011 Pro Bowl in Honolulu." NFL Exec VP/Football Operations Ray Anderson said at a news conference yesterday, "We are aware of the comments of the governor recently." Hawaii Tourism Authority President Mike McCartney said, "This is important to Hawaii. There's no other opportunity that can give us this much exposure" (HAWAIINEWSNOW.com, 1/24). Abercrombie yesterday on KGMB said that he was "seeking a relationship like the one the state has with" the PGA Tour Sony Open in Hawaii, "terming it, 'a real partnership.'" Abercrombie said, "Nobody likes to have a gun put to their head. And, so, if we can get a genuine partnership there the way we have with Sony ... it could be a better partnership. The other situation (with the NFL) is kind of 'you give us this or else.' Nobody likes that kind of an attitude." When asked if the '13 or '14 game could still be held in Hawaii, Abercrombie said, "We're gonna certainly do everything we can to make sure that happens. We'd be delighted if they did" (HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER, 1/25).
SWITCHING COURSE: In Honolulu, Dave Reardon writes the "off-field action is a lot more serious than anything you'll see from the players at practices or even at Aloha Stadium this Sunday." Abercrombie has "already reversed his field a few times, mixing stiff arms and hip fakes." But Reardon asks, "Is he making any positive yardage?" Reardon: "I just can't see the NFL caving, not when it looks like a high-speed game of chicken -- with Abercrombie in that little yellow Checker cab he used to campaign in, going up against NFL commissioner Roger Gooodell piloting the Madden Cruiser." Reardon notes in a few hours, Abercrombie had "once again gone from kicking okole to kissing okole." Shifting course is "often good and often necessary." Reardon: "But unless we don't want future Pro Bowls, we can't afford any more public changes in direction from our top elected official" (HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER, 1/25).