Sunday, January 31, 2010

Pro Bowl Changes, Without Changing At All

It's been no secret on this blog that I'm a sucker for All-Star games, and the NFL Pro Bowl is no exception. After the season and Super Bowl are all wrapped up, I like that we get one more chance to see some of the league's best players chum it up and take the field in Hawaii. Even though most people think the Pro Bowl is the most pointless of all the All-Star games in professional sports, I've enjoyed watching so much that we even used to run a live blog during it. This year, however, the NFL decided to mix it up a bit.

The game was moved from the week after the Super Bowl to the week before it, mainly in an effort to drum up more interest for the exhibition contest. Many things were quite different - the game was now played under the lights, it wasn't in Hawaii, it was raining, and none of the Pro Bowlers from the Super Bowl contenders, the Saints and Colts, suited up to play. This meant a more diluted talent pool than in recent years, as proven by the fact that David Garrard threw for 183 yards in an All-Star game. But despite the changes, the game was still pretty much what we've come to expect.

No matter what the league tries to do, the Pro Bowl is still going to be the most boring football game of the season, mainly because the rules are watered down so much, something that's not usually done in other sports. In football's all-star game, you can't blitz, you can't use more than three receivers at once, and you can only use the 4-3 defense, which means things are kept pretty vanilla. I still like to see all the guys get together, interact, and have players from rival teams hooking up for big plays, but in the end it's usually just a boring football game.

I'll still defend the game though, just because I really have that affliction for All-Star games that I can't quite explain. Someone that might be sharing my feelings? Look no further than Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. Because Drew Brees is headed to the Super Bowl and Brett Favre doesn't believe in the Pro Bowl, Rodgers got the start and performed very well. But that's something we've all come to expect. Rodgers went 15-for-19, throwing for 197 yards and two touchdowns in about a quarter and a half worth of play. He would have definitely been a candidate for the MVP award had the NFC won, but the AFC took the honors this year winning 41-34 (and the award would have probably gone to DeSean Jackson anyway).

The Packers were also represented on defense as well, but neither player had to make too much of an impact. Nick Collins was credited with four tackles while Clay Matthews picked up one. Charles Woodson was initially named as a starter for the squad but sat out because of injury concerns.

So while it was a pretty successful showing for the Packers, the game itself really wasn't that much different from in years past. I know that the game did sell out in Miami, and we'll have to see how the ratings were but I can't imagine they'd be much different just because the game was played before the Super Bowl instead of afterwards. I guess I do like having the game played in Hawaii, but I also like how there is at least some sort of football game on during the two week lull before the Super Bowl. Honestly, the roommates and I had no idea what to do today with there not being any football on during the afternoon. Thank God Edge returned in the Royal Rumble, or this day might have been a complete waste.

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