The NFL is hoping to "decide the fate of the Pro Bowl by the time it releases next season's schedule in April," according to Oskar Garcia of the AP. The fate of the league's all-star game will "largely depend on how much effort this year's participants put into the game." NFL Exec VP/Football Operations Ray Anderson said, ''Our hope is that the players will give the same effort and energy that allowed them to become roster members of this Pro Bowl." NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell "nearly canceled the game after uninspiring play last year, but it will be held Sunday at Aloha Stadium after discussions between the league and the player's union." Bears CB Charles Tillman said that the "message to players has been clear." He said that players "need to balance playing hard with avoiding injury, to give fans the game they deserve without hurting their teams going into next year." Tillman said, ''We owe it to our fans, we owe it to our viewers, to give them a little more effort than we did last year" (AP, 1/22). In Honolulu, Ferd Lewis notes there is "no guarantee" the Pro Bowl would be held in Hawaii in '14. Anderson said, "There's always a possibility that it could go elsewhere if we continue to play the game." But he added, "There's a strong preference to stay right here." Anderson: "I can't give you a percentage on it (remaining in Honolulu), because there is a business component to the matter. But I can tell you if it were up to the players and coaches, I'm sure it would be 100 percent because they love it (here)" (HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER, 1/23).
FLIP THE SWITCH: In Honolulu, Dave Reardon writes to the NFL Pro Bowlers, "Enjoy. It could be the last go-round for your all-star game if you don't knock each other's blocks off out there at Aloha Stadium on Sunday. Unlike all the other games, where you have to play nice-nice." This has to be "confusing and difficult for the players." Football "isn't an endeavor where you can turn the intensity up and down at will and still provide a genuine and entertaining product." Goodell "won't pull the plug on the Pro Bowl until a lot more TV viewers do." If it "does survive, I doubt the Pro Bowl gets moved from Hawaii again in the near future" (HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER, 1/23).