There was a lot of talk this season about what would happen to the Pro Bowl after this season. Would the league get rid of it? After the performance last season there really wasn’t much optimism. Players like Aaron Rodgers were open about how upset they were with the lack of effort. Some plays were so bad that the fans were booing the players. We thought we’d see the same tonight.
As Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast my friend.”
While seeing a score of 62-35, compared to the 59-41 score last season, you’d think that there was a lot more of the same as last year’s game. But when Texans defensive end JJ Watt was being interviewed on the sideline while sporting a busted pinky that left blood all over his jersey, you knew that things were gonna be different this year. After Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie ran way offsides on a field goal attempt, Saints holder/punter Thomas Morstead decided that he had a free play to attempt a pass to Viking tight end Kyle Rudolph but threw it right to Chiefs safety Eric Berry who tried taking the meaningless interception for six. But Morstead chased him all the way down, tackling him right as Berry crossed the goal line.
That’s what made this game watchable for the NFL fan. Meaningless plays in a meaningless game being contested. Players knew that the game was being talked about in a bad light and took it upon themselves to give good effort. Sure, there were still some gimmick plays that turned into disasters, but you have to expect that in an all-star game.
Then there was longtime Colts center and now-former Packer center Jeff Saturday changing sides for one play to snap the ball one last time to longtime teammate and friend Peyton Manning. And referee Ed Hochuli made light of a pass interference call late in the first half, turning his microphone on to say, “Yes, there are penalties in the Pro Bowl.”
Those were two examples of keeping the competitiveness up but not so high that people forgot that this is just an annual reunion of the game’s best players. Roger Goodell has to feel good about the state of the Pro Bowl and will likely renew the contract. No one knows the actual TV ratings yet, but it’s always been the most watched professional all-star game, and with the performance tonight, we’ll likely get to keep seeing the Pro Bowl at the end of January.