(Editor’s Note: You may remember a previous post on All-Star shenanigans.)
So, the Pro Bowl was yesterday. Or, at least, that’s what NBC told me I was watching for three and a half hours last night. All I saw were streaks of neon orange and yellow so bright and offensive to the eye I wasn’t sure if it was a football game or a NASCAR race after a bad hit of acid.
In any case, if you’re reading this, you’re probably aware of the new format…blah, fantasy-style draft…blah, blah, Cris Collinsworth is a moron, blah. So I won’t go into it.
Suffice it to say, I only decided to view the Pro Bowl over, say, the GRAMMYs because A) I’m a straight man, and B) I love football. I’m the guy who would watch the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, willingly, and find myself emotionally involved in the outcome of North Dakota Polytechnic State College and University and Southeastern Arkansas Culinary Academy for the Blind. (Editor’s note: To the best of our knowledge, these are not, in fact, actual NCAA FBS football schools. If they exist in some other level of sanctioned collegiate athletics, our apologies and congratulations to your kids for having a wonderful season.)
Understandably, the athletic level of competition in these types of All-Star games is laughable. No matter when the game is played, the most gifted (and, yeah, popular) players in a sport are loathe to injure themselves out of a multi-million dollar contract. I don’t blame them for it. Frankly, I don’t think the All-Star games should be televised at all, because at least in the NFL, the game itself is for the players, not the fans. One of my friends who was over to watch the supposed competition remarked, “This is the most actual fun I’ve ever seen football players have playing football. It’s kind of unsettling.”
He raises a great point. They were having fun. They were playing against their own teammates, they were in freakin’ HAWAII for at least a week on the NFL’s dime, and they got to play for two of the greatest HoF’ers in the history of football. I’d be excited as all hell too.
Yeah, the effort wasn’t there on the whole, but it was a hell of a lot more than the last few years. The Chiefs’ Derrick Johnson, without a doubt, was hitting people like it was his job (which, you might remember, it is):
Yes, that’s Jamaal Charles, AKA The Guy Who Won Me Third Place in Fantasy This Year. Yes, Charles plays for the Chiefs. Apparently, he didn’t expect Johnson treating him like the scout team waterboy. Johnson was named the game’s defensive MVP, and rightly so. With so many players simply happy to be there and arm-tackling like a Pee Wee team, it was refreshing to see him actually, you know, playing football in a football game.
Jimmy Graham, however, the *ahem* Heir Apparent to the Throne of the Mighty Tony Gonzalez, was embarrassing. At one point during the fourth quarter, on an “important”-ish drive, he caught the ball in the flat and…well, took his damn time. Jogged a little, then stepped out of bounds.
I’ve seen plays in practices for high school bowling that had more hustle. I’ve seen our cats, who have the motivation of cave lichen, move with more gumption. I’ve seen…well, you get the idea. To call it uninspired would be an insult to the Kardashians and Biebers of our society.
What was most surprising, though, was the horrendous quarterback play for “Team Rice,” even though they won the game. Has Philip Rivers (8-13-94) always thrown a submarine pass? Has Drew Brees (9-19-81) secretly been terrible outdoors, no matter what the weather? Has Alex Smith always taken the Pro Bowl as seriously as he takes regular-season football?
Smith led the game-winning drive and won it with (what else, for those of us who watched him piggyback Charles to the playoffs) a screen pass to a running back, in this case Dallas’ DeMarco Murray.
Tony Romo, meanwhile, was seen in his no-doubt expensive and empty home crying softly while listening to Little Texas’ seminal 1993 hit, What Might Have Been:
Meanwhile, Smith wouldn’t even be in Hawaii if New England’s Tom Brady hadn’t been a sore, whiny loser and dropped out immediately following his team’s embarrassment (sorry: loss) to the Broncos in the AFC Championship game, so, thanks Tom!
In any event, while the Pro Bowl may be the Carrot Top of football games, I still believe it should stick around, if nothing more than to promote a little bit of post-season pride in fans of every NFL team. For example, unlike unicorns, Bigfoot or congressional bi-partisanship, there was in fact a Jacksonville Jaguar selected to the game, and he actually played.