NFL Execs Pleased With Pro Bowl, But Will It Be Enough To Save Game?
NFL execs “liked what it saw from the 2013 Pro Bowl, which likely means a return for the game in 2014,” according to the Honolulu STAR-ADVERTISER. NFL Exec VP/Football Operations Ray Anderson said, “I think there is no question that the improvement we sought (from the players) was delivered.” The league had “challenged the players to put forth a better effort this year or lose the annual all-star game after commissioner Roger Goodell threatened to suspend the game following a lackluster 2012 effort." Anderson: “No question all of our people back in New York, including the commissioner, were watching carefully and intently. I think they liked what they saw” (Honolulu STAR-ADVERTISER, 1/28). NBC's Cris Collinsworth said five minutes into last night's game, which the NFC won 62-35, “The good news is that there is a pace to this game already that looks like football. I think the commissioner, who is very serious about pulling the plug on this game if it looked anything like what happened last year, is going to at least enjoy the beginning of this one.” NBC's Al Michaels said in the final minutes of the game, “Put on a heck of a lot better show than they did last year. May have saved the game.” Collinsworth added, “We had a chance to talk to the commissioner this week and he said, 'If it doesn’t pick up we’re cancelling it.' You expect effort, and I thought they gave effort today” ("NFL Pro Bowl," NBC, 1/27).
PLAYERS SAY GAME WAS COMPETITIVE: The AP's Oskar Garcia notes many NFLers are defending the Pro Bowl as “a worthy reward for top players who don't make the Super Bowl." Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph, who was named Pro Bowl MVP, said, "That was the big emphasis this week, making sure that we were competitive and I think we showed that." Garcia writes the “shenanigans were limited," but the results “were familiar -- another ho-hum Pro Bowl.” Now the future of the game “depends on how Commissioner Roger Goodell sees it.” Broncos QB Peyton Manning said, "That's for him to decide. I thought it was a good, competitive game." During yesterday's game, Texans DE J.J. Watt “showed a television camera a bloody left pinkie, joking with NBC broadcasters that it was proof that the players were trying.” But Watt also "lined up as a wide receiver on the AFC's third play fromk scrimmage," missing a pass from Manning. Meanwhile, Packers C Jeff Saturday “lined up on one play for the AFC to snap the ball one last time" to Manning. Still, if players were “coasting this time around, it was less obvious.” Referee Ed Hochuli “drew cheers when announcing a pass interference penalty" on Broncos CB Champ Bailey in the second quarter, which was the first flag of the game. Hochuli said, "Yes, there are penalties in the Pro Bowl" (AP, 1/28).
EXAMPLE OF WHY IT SHOULD END: ESPN's Mike Greenberg said Saturday playing for the AFC for one snap is the "perfect reason to explain why they shouldn’t play this game." If something similar happend in the MLB All-Star Game, “there would be a march on the offices of Major League Baseball." Greenberg: "They would be coming towards Bud Selig carrying torches saying this is a joke and they’ve made a mockery of the game" ("Mike & Mike in the Morning," ESPN Radio, 1/28).