So much drama. So much at stake. So much…filler content.
The Pro Bowl draft was held as part of a two-hour TV special Wednesday night. Really.
There’s really a Pro Bowl draft. The game is no longer AFC vs. NFC. This year, it’s Team Rice vs. Team Irvin with Jerry Rice and Michael Irvin as honorary captains.
Rice and Irvin, by the way, are a couple injury absences away from being in uniform. The game will go on Sunday in Honolulu, though, and now the rosters are set.
It wasn’t a true draft. To ensure balance and some semblance of competitiveness, 34 players were pre-assigned to divide centers, tight ends, left tackles, kickers, long snappers, etc. Four player captains were selected — Devonta Freeman and Geno Atkins for Team Irvin; Odell Beckham and Aaron Donald for Team Rice — and 48 players eventually were drafted.
Irvin got Russell Wilson, Julio Jones and Richard Sherman with his early picks. With a nudge from Beckham, Rice started with Eli Manning, then used three of his next four on the talented and young Raiders trio of Khalil Mack, Derek Carr and Amari Cooper.
“This is the first game of 2016 in my mind,” Wilson said on the draft broadcast. And he pretty much said it with a straight face.
Browns center Alex Mack, who once scored a Pro Bowl touchdown, is on Team Irvin. His Browns teammates Gary Barnidge and Joe Thomas will play for Team Rice. The full rosters can be found over on NFL.com.
Not that any of you would ever research and wager on the Pro Bowl.
Rice chose Andy Reid and his Chiefs staff to coach Team Rice. Though Mike McCarthy had to stay home, the Packers staff will coach Team Irvin with Winston Moss as head coach.