The year was 2004. Honolulu Hawaii hosted the 2004 Pro Bowl where the NFC came back from a 13-38 deficit to win 55-52. Back in these days, not so long ago, Pro Bowl’s we’re played with passion. Like All-Star games across different sports, these contests host the best athletes from around the league to compete at the highest level for one last hurrah. The Pro Bowl back in 2004 was played with full contact, hard hits, hard runs, strong tackles, and photo finishes. The Pro Bowl in 2022 is a night-and-day comparison to what it was back in 2004. None of the attributes mentioned would be consistent with the 2022 Pro Bowl. As we’ve seen in the NBA All-Star Game, and other contests, it’s very evident that the athletes are treating it as a novelty or “constellation” game. This mentality has proven itself to be a sign of the times, sports, and the world around them is getting softer. We can see it everyday in the world around us. The people deserve a hard-fought contest at the end of the year to remember the players by. And as if that’s not enough, have some dignity and put on a show! The fans and patrons paid a good chunk of change to be a part of the Pro Bowl experience, they deserve to be entertained. What I saw this past Sunday was everything but a show. I watched the Pro Bowl for less than five minutes before I couldn’t take it anymore. Standing up players, no tackles, no real contact, minimal blocking and rushing of the quarterback, and the list goes on and on. This week it seemed to be a common narrative that this year’s Pro Bowl was a complete waste of time.
Nobody wants to hear the responses from players, where the common story is “I’m not going to engage in full contact in a game that doesn’t matter”. Doesn’t matter? Have some dignity for the team represented on the helmet you’re wearing, along with the conference you play for. The brutality and killer mentality from the game of football that many of us know and love is disappearing, and this is truly unfortunate. Sure, the Pro Bowl doesn’t matter from a statistical or record standpoint but take pride in the game you’ve made into a profession. Tom Brady knew better than to come close to Las Vegas this past Sunday for one last dance. He didn’t play the game to go to Pro Bowls. In 2012 Brady said in a conversation with then Patriots LB Brandon Spikes, “You think I play this s—t to go to Pro Bowls? Get it together. Get your head up. We’re trying to win rings.” Brady could see the smoke and mirrors within the Pro Bowl scene and where it was going from the early 2000s until now. It’s fair to say he’s probably happy he sat this one out.