The NFL is “moving toward suspending the Pro Bowl, possibly this year,” according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. The game is "on the calendar for the week before the Super Bowl, but there’s no game site that is listed." NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and other league execs "and even some of the players are basically saying … that there’s no reason to play the Pro Bowl.” Meanwhile, the NFL likely will "instruct teams to continue to put Pro Bowl incentives in contracts." Mortensen: "If players have Pro Bowl incentives, go ahead and pay them so they don’t have a problem with the union in going with this action" (“Mike & Mike in the Morning,” ESPN Radio, 4/26). CBSSPORTS.com’s Mike Freeman reports both the league and union officials have privately indicated that “while this year's game might still be played, it's highly unlikely the concept would last beyond that.” NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello in an e-mail said, “We have been in discussions with the union about the future of the Pro Bowl. No determination has been made yet about this season's game." Freeman notes Goodell was not “happy with last year's Pro Bowl which was widely viewed as a joke as players refused to even make basic tackles.” Most players “have long believed the game was a tremendous waste of time” (CBSSPORTS.com, 4/26). ESPN’s John Clayton said the NFL sees the Pro Bowl as a “damaged game,” but part of it is a “negotiating ploy to try to get players to be more committed to make it a better game and salvage it” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 4/26).
NOT EVEN CLOSE TO THE REAL GAME: ESPN’s Bill Polian noted, “It’s gotten to be a joke among football people." Polian: "Players pull out of the game, then you have players you would never consider Pro Bowlers playing in the game and being advertised as Pro Bowlers. Then the play on the field has gotten to the point where it’s a flag football game. It’s not surprising, it’s something that’s been bandied about for quite a little while. In the end, depending on what it’s replaced with, it maybe is the right move” ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 4/26). ESPN’s Mike Golic said, “You can’t control how guys are going to play. ... So I guess it wouldn’t shock me because the way it was played last year there would be no reason to play.” ESPN’s Mike Greenberg said, “Name a Pro Bowl team, or call it whatever you want, but don’t play the game” (“Mike & Mike in the Morning,” ESPN Radio, 4/26). YAHOO SPORTS’ Matthew Darnell writes the NFL “is a violent game," but what happens at the Pro Bowl “is that the violence goes away, as the one true goal for any player in Hawaii is to walk away healthy.” Darnell: “If there's no violence, the game is not the game -- the intensity and effort are not there, and it's impossible to play this game in an entertaining way without intensity and effort” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/26).
TWITTER REAX: Syndicated radio host Jim Rome wrote on his Twitter feed, "'Suspend' the Pro Bowl? Take that thing out back and bust a cap in it. This dog should have been put down a long time ago." The Charlotte Observer's Scott Fowler wrote, "Good -- game has become embarrassment." ESPN's Adam Schefter wrote, "So what if they don't play a Pro Bowl this season. They didn't play one last season, either." Sportscaster Bob Brainerd wrote, "If the NFL Pro Bowl goes away, can it please take the NBA All Star Game with it...?" The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Joe Strauss wrote, "If NFL kills Pro Bowl, Big 12 will then corner the market on flag football exhibitions."