Five Kansas City Chiefs were “drafted” Wednesday to play on the Team Sanders roster for Sunday’s Pro Bowl game and the other five found themselves on Team Rice, setting up a potentially hilarious – or disastrous – situation in regards to how hard teammates will hit each other in a meaningless game.
If there was ever a doubt that the National Football League should do away with their annual Pro Bowl game, the league’s attempt at making the Pro Bowl into a fantasy football event should be the clinching argument. Any fan that wasted time watching the televised fantasy draft on Wednesday to set the rosters can attest to that.
It might go down as the moment the Pro Bowl jumped the shark.
As your Kansas City Chiefs Examiner, I felt that I HAD TO watch some of the program so that I could report that Team Sanders co-captain Jamaal Charles selected teammates Eric Berry, Branden Albert, Tamba Hali and Dontari Poe to be on his team, while Brandon Flowers, Justin Houston, Derrick Johnson, Dexter McCluster and Alex Smith will line up opposite them on Team Rice.
After watching 30 minutes of this goof-fest, I realized that I could be more productive with my time, gave my dog a bath and cleaned the grout around the sink, and then just report the rosters afterwards. Yeah, I get the fact that this Pro Bowl thing is supposed to be laid-back and fun, but … sheesh!
If you haven’t paid attention to the Pro Bowl lately – and based on the non-existent buzz surrounding the game for the last 15 years, you haven’t – the NFL decided to “un-conference” the participants for the first time ever this year and throw them all into a pile to be drafted fantasy-style. No more AFC versus NFC playing for conference pride. Just a bunch of players now having even LESS incentive to win the game.
What you have now in the case of the Chiefs and a few other teams is the very real chance that Pro Bowl caliber teammates will face off against each other – and hit each other – in the context of a real game. The NFL, the hypocritical 800-lb gorilla of the sporting world – seems to be laughing this one off as inconsequential.
Several defensive linemen joked openly about getting a chance to hit their QBs, something they never get to do during the other 364 days of the year. The Chiefs’ Dontari Poe told Kevin Patra of NFL.com that he would take it easy on Alex Smith … maybe.
"I won't be too violent," Poe said. "I know how important he is, but at the same time I'm trying to get that truck (for MVP) so we'll see how it is. I might be gentle. I got to get the sack though. I might get him the smoothest way I can, but we'll see about it."
Of course a 340-lb man running full speed (as the NFL has told us the players will do because of the invigorating fantasy format of the teams) can control himself when bringing down another 220-lb football player and there is virtually NO CHANCE that an injury can happen, right????
And what happens when Derrick Johnson is standing in a sea of humanity crashing into each other and suddenly Jamaal Charles breaks through the line heading straight towards him? Does DJ “gently” tackle his teammate, or does 20 years of football muscle memory take over and he hits Charles hard? And what happens if Charles’ knee gets bent like a pretzel and suddenly Andy Reid no longer has the best running back in the league to carry his offense in 2014?
It’s time to end this farce and get rid of the Pro Bowl. Purists may cry about it, but at a time when Commissioner Hypocrite … er, Goodell … is seriously discussing eliminating kicking extra points after touchdowns to save wear and tear on players (while openly advocating an 18-game regular season schedule), putting the league’s best players at risk for a truly meaningless game is ludicrous.
If the league wants to throw a huge party in Hawaii every year after the Super Bowl and let players and their wives and families or girlfriends take a well-deserved break after the season, they can. Fans will live if it’s not televised.
If players need competition, have a skills contest that reduces the risk of injury. Hey … how about the cornerbacks taking on receivers and running backs in a 40-yd dash? They go crazy about it during the rookie Combine in February!!
Since Xbox is one of the league’s big sponsors, have a contest that invites fans of each team to Hawaii to sit next to their favorite player and play Madden. Do it online and have tens of thousands of fans get the chance to play an NFL player. Give them a sneak peek of next year’s Madden game and you might get millions of fans. Stream it all online and do it for charity. Do it for the retired player’s pension fund to help all the former players suffering from head injuries.
Just don’t ask fans to pay $300 for tickets to Aloha Stadium to watch a bunch of players trying not to get hurt in a game that means nothing. Except for Poe, who wants that truck!
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