Last year, quarterback Peyton Manning reportedly implored Pro Bowl players to play hard at the Pro Bowl in order to save the Pro Bowl.
This year, the Pro Bowlers apparently don’t need a kick in the posterior from Peyton. Which is a good thing, since Peyton isn’t there.
The new unconferenced fantasy draft approach presumably was aimed at creating a diversion from the fact that the players don’t play hard — in large part because they don’t have any real incentive to do so. But it also could be lighting a fire under the Pro Bowlers.
“I really think it’s gonna be competitive, honestly,” Dolphins center Mike Pouncey told Alex Marvez and Bill Polian of SiriusXM NFL Radio on Thursday. “Because we’re doing walk-throughs in practice and the defensive line, they’re going full speed. They’re not even letting us block them in practice. Everyone’s excited. Some guys are mad because they got drafted later than other guys. So I think it’s gonna be a real competitive game. I know one thing, I’m gonna be going 110 percent, because I’m gonna be ready to play.”
There’s still no incentive to do it. For players who have made it through an entire regular season (and for some, one or more postseason games) healthy enough to suit up and play, it makes no sense to risk injury in a meaningless late January game. Pouncey, for example, surely would like to get a new contract after the season, now that he has three years of NFL service. If Pouncey suffers a serious injury while “going 110 percent” in the Pro Bowl, he can forget about getting a new contract until he shows that he’s 100 percent again.
Or, as the case may be, 110 percent.