NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has huffed and puffed and threatened to pull the plug on the Pro Bowl.
The players apparently are now willing to take the risk of blowing their own bodies down.
At a time when it has become accepted as true that another game of full-padded touch football will result in the end of the Pro Bowl as we know it (and I feel fine), the players apparently plan to play hard.
Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, who doesn’t have to worry about losing $40 million guaranteed over the next two years thanks to a full-speed blitzing linebacker because no blitzing is allowed, reportedly has implored the players to provide full effort in order to keep Goodell from canceling the game.
This presumes that Goodell would really do it. We don’t think he will. Because regardless of the warts, people watch it, more than any other major-league all-star game. And more will watch it this year, because people will want to see just how bad it really is.
Regardless, the idea that a player who really doesn’t have to worry about getting injured in the game would goad the men who are risking their bones and tendons and ligaments is a tough one to swallow. These players have made it through a full regular season (and, for some, one or more postseason games) healthy enough to suit up and play one more game. Why risk an injury that would require them to recover from surgery and engage in rehab activities when they otherwise would be enjoying time away from the game?
For pending free agents, like Dolphins defensive lineman Randy Starks and Bills safety Jairus Byrd and Giants receiver Victor Cruz (restricted), suffering a torn ACL or a ruptured Achilles tendon will result in plenty of money being lost as well.
So there’s no good reason for players to treat the game like a real game. And anyone who suggests otherwise is willing to gamble with someone else’s livelihood.
If that means there should be no Pro Bowl, so be it. But as long as we watch it, it’s not going anywhere.