Dozens of players turn down the Pro Bowl

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One of the fundamental differences between the Pro Bowl and the all-star games in baseball, basketball and hockey is that those other sports’ all-star games really do have all the stars.

In the NFL, however, dozens of players turn down Pro Bowl invitations. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, 37 players who were chosen declined to participate, and it’s unclear whether that number encompasses every player who declined because in some cases, an alternate turns the Pro Bowl invitation down, and the NFL then moves on to the next alternate without ever making an announcement.

Players often cite injuries as a reason not to play, and that’s obviously an acceptable reason, although many players are citing injuries that they had no problem playing with in the regular season. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, for instance, insisted in December that he was fine playing through his finger injury, but when he was given a Pro Bowl invitation this week as an alternate, he declined because of his finger.

There’s really not much the NFL can do about this: Many players don’t want to play, and the NFL can’t make them. If the league wanted to entice more players to play it could increase the payments to the players, currently at $61,000 for the winning team and $30,000 for the losing team. But for multimillionaires who have just been through a grueling season, it would have to be a lot more money to get them to do it.

So the NFL is probably stuck with an all star game that doesn’t have all the stars, or even close to all the stars.

111 responses to “Dozens of players turn down the Pro Bowl

  1. I don’t blame any of them. It’s a garbage game, and not worth the injury risk. Look what the game did for Tyler Eifert last year… cost him all of camp and the first half of the season.

  2. Waste. Just name the all-stars and skip the game. They should have them go to the super bowl and be part of the fan experience instead. Have them available for autograph sessions and showcases. This would also allow players who’s teams don’t make it there, experience it in a different way.

  3. Why would any player want to be part of this ludicrous joke of a game and “skills” competitions? Dodgeball? Really?

    It was one thing when it was in Hawaii and the got a trip with their families to a beautiful and unique destination. Orlando? Not very exciting.

    Plus the possibility of injury in this meaningless bunch of crap should transcend any other consideration of attending and being involved.

    I have not watched anything having to do with the pro bowl for more than 20 years. its nothing but a meaningless money grab at this point with zero entertainment value.

  4. “Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, for instance, insisted in December that he was fine playing through his finger injury, but when he was given a Pro Bowl invitation this week as an alternate, he declined because of his finger.”

    …that is because one game is important and you must play through the pain, and one game means nothing, so go take care of your finger.

  5. Just put this dead horse to bed once and for all. I love the NFL and I cant remember when I watched a Pro Bowl

  6. This whole Pro Bowl thing is a complete waste of time. It shouldn’t even be called a game, it should be called an exhibition.
    The NFL would be better served to treat every player in the NFL and their families to a vacation in Hawaii and call it a day.

  7. $61,000 for winners and $30,000 for the losers? lol The lowest paid guy makes close to half a million and your all true pro-bowlers are making millions – is it worth the risk of injury to play for $30K-60K? lol

  8. I’m not a fan of the Pro Bowl game itself, but I did enjoy the Skills Challenge. The drone drop was cool.

  9. $61,000 for winners and $30,000 for the losers? lol The lowest paid guy makes close to half a million and your all true pro-bowlers are making millions – is it worth the risk of injury to play for $30K-60K? lol
    N-o
    F -‘in
    c L-UE

  10. Why don’t they just do away with the Pro Bowl? It’s unwatchable.

    Just vote on the awards, give the accolades and be done with it. The game blows. And players can get injured. Then outstanding rook NEP RB Robert Edwards lost a career over it — and more recently CIN TE Tyler Eifert shredded his knee in it.

  11. habsfanatic says:
    Jan 27, 2017 9:36 AM

    Pay them more, the NFL has the money. Pay winners 500,000$ and losers 250,000$ and you’ll get your all-stars.

    …and return the game to Hawaii

  12. Time for the NFL to do away with this farce of an event all together…..Just name first team pro bowlers and give them a plaque and a free trip to Hawaii and call it a day!

  13. Do a skills contest only…something akin to Battle of the Network stars from the 1970s. Let them paddle boats and lift weights and play tug of war….all while drinking beer and smoking weed.

  14. For players, it needs to be in hawaii.

    For fans, we need the best players in it and for them to be trying.

    For players, they need to get a full game check vis a vis whatever their salary is, probably with a % bump as an all-star.

    For management, if you want to incentivize players playing, maybe next CBA negotiate that pro-bowl escalators are only for playing in the game, unless you can’t pass a team physical. Who knows.

    But right now, this game is dead. Just put it out of its missery. At least the fantasty draft all star player manager this was an attempt (a failed attempt) to fix. While going back to AFC NFC was the right move, it feels like the league is just content with a wack product.

  15. The NHL suspends players 1 game for skipping without a legitimate injury that would keep them out of a regular game. You’d see a lot more players show up if that were the case. The NHL all star game is playable with pretty much no risk of injury though, because they just don’t hit. The Pro Bowl is silly.

  16. At what point can we just name an All-Star team and not play the game? I think now would be good. Get them all together for a photo op at the Super Bowl and call it a season.

  17. If what you’re saying is Stafford thinks the Pro Bowl isn’t even worth the finger I would have to agree.

  18. I wonder if it would make a difference if the NFL paid the winning team $1M per player. Feasible? Probably not, we might get a game worth watching.

  19. ……….Get rid of the Pro Bowl?…NO WAY…it’s ANOTHER revenue stream for the owners. I do who’s idea that suggested they send all the Pro Bowl players to the Super Bowl ……..very good idea……..

  20. And for those commenters that complain about the quality of the actual game – here’s a suggestion: DON’T WATCH IT. However, there are those of us that want to watch it for the fun factor.

    Reminder: the Pro Bowl averages 12 million viewers, which is still more than the typical NBA or MLB playoff game. You may not like it, but clearly some of us do.

    But seriously, that the NFL should cancel it just because YOU don’t like watching it is a stupid reason.

  21. I’ve been saying it for a long time it needs to happen after the draft between minicamps and training camp and send the game to Europe. First fans and players would be more eager to watch/play football in June. Second players would be healed up. Third getting the all stars will bring out more European fans who may only know a couple of names. Fourth Super Bowl players would be able to attend. Lastly players will not have gotten a check in months the prospect of getting at least $30k and a free European vacation sounds pretty good when you’re not making money.

  22. Although the game is a joke, winners and losers, come on man! These guys have 30 to 60 grand that can be found under the cushions in their sofas at home.

    Be that as it may, I think the median American household income is around 50K. Funny to think of this as the average working Joe turning down a free vacation and getting paid what some of us make for an entire year.

  23. “Robert Edwards was Rookie of the Year in 1998 and had a career ending injury because of the Pro Bowl”

    And wasn’t that injury while playing beach vollyball? Not even a football related one.

  24. goodellmustgoblog says:
    Jan 27, 2017 9:46 AM

    Robert Edwards was Rookie of the Year in 1998 and had a career ending injury because of the Pro Bowl. I’m still surprised anyone has ever gone since.

    —–

    That was an MTV beach volleyball game, but your point is still valid.

  25. The award isn’t even an honor. How are you supposed to award someone for a “Pro Bowl” season when voting starts around midway through the season? It’s a joke.

  26. And millions of FB fans don’t watch it anyway!

    filthymcnasty3 says:
    Jan 27, 2017 9:37 AM
    Blair Walsh will go.

    Even us Viking fans get a good laugh at this one!

  27. If the NFL wants to save the probowl they need to get rid of the popularity contest and just let the cheerleader squads from the Super Bowl teams play a lingerie game. Now that would draw ratings.

  28. The bottom line is $60K or $31K is not worth risking the ability to make millions. Owners will drop an injured player as fast as the can in many cases. Football cannot be played at half speed which this game is all about.

  29. harrisonhits2 says:
    Jan 27, 2017 9:35 AM

    Why would any player want to be part of this ludicrous joke of a game and “skills” competitions? Dodgeball? Really?
    ___________________
    Yes, really. Would you rather watch 2nd tier QBs throw against non-existent defenses while 2nd tier DE’s refuseto rush the passer, or watch your favorite players huck dodgeballs at each other? I don’t think I’ll ever watch the Pro Bowl again, but dodgeball looks like can’t miss television.

  30. The Pro Bowl needs to be the victory lap around another successful season for the NFL. Which means it has to have the stars of the superbowl in it as well, and it has to take place after the superbowl and be in Hawaii.

    Then you have to make it watchable which means it needs to be a game played at full speed with no restrictions other than the rules of the game as played in the regular season/playoffs.

    To limit the risk of injuries, invite more players so each player has less exposure. Instead of having 3 players at each position, have 6. Instead of having starters play special teams, invite a whole team’s special teams to play.

    And to get the player’s competitive juices flowing, give them a trophy and put bonuses in their contracts for not only making the pro bowl, but also winning it.

  31. The Skills Showdown was a lot of fun if you caught it last night. Beckham’s catch on the last round of the Drone Drop was epic and the friendly competition between him and Jarvis Landry really made the whole show fun.

    Not much point to the game itself though TBH.

  32. Pro Bowl needs the Old Yeller treatment.

    No one cares about it. The fans certainly don’t. The players don’t. It makes marginal players look like good ones because they’re getting invited to the Pro Bowl after 3-4 guys bail on it.

    Just take it out back and shoot it already

  33. If u think this game is bad back in the early sixties they had a game called the runner-up bowl. Second place finishers of the east and west divisions would play each other. Don’t think it lasted too long

  34. The skills competition they had this year was actually pretty fun–they need more of that where you get to see the players’ faces and personalities instead of them being buried in pads in the boring Pro Bowl game itself. If they let guys opt out of the game and still do the skills and meet-and-greets they’d probably get more stars there and the weekend overall would be a better event.

  35. Philip Rivers is the 6th – SIXTH replacement choice for the 3rd QB spot on the AFC team. Let that sink in for a second then try to tell me that the Pro Bowl is about watching the best of the best, or even worth watching at all.

  36. If Roger Goodell ever wanted to improve his credibility, he would eliminate the Pro Bowl and replace it with an Award ceremony like the Oscars, where the top 4 or 5 players at each position gather and past champions and celebrities announce the winners.
    The top 4 or 5 players could be given the status of being the best each year (like pro bowlers) and the status wouldn’t be diluted because 6th backups currently become pro bowlers because many top players can’t be bothered playing.

  37. Name the Pro Bowlers and get rid of the game and just have a skills competition. Combine this with the Senior Bowl and have the Pro Bowlers on the sidelines for that game. The seniors will love it and it will also be a competitive game!

  38. This game means so little that it isn’t even funny.

    I did like it when it took place after the Super Bowl because it helped the seasons over blues just a little.

    But now, with the 24/7 access to football, there really isn’t an off season, so the game is pretty irrelevant.

  39. rankster1950 says:
    Jan 27, 2017 10:26 AM
    “If u think this game is bad back in the early sixties they had a game called the runner-up bowl. Second place finishers of the east and west divisions would play each other. ”

    The Colts have their partcipation banners hanging in anticipation.

  40. First time on this board we all agreed on something about the pro bowl and it aint good news for the nfl, but then again its deaf ears, madison ave rules that roost whether we like it or not. N one watches it but the nfl doesnt care.

  41. harrisonhits2 says:
    Jan 27, 2017 9:35 AM
    Why would any player want to be part of this ludicrous joke of a game and “skills” competitions? Dodgeball? Really?
    ============================================

    LOL, everyone has been calling for a skills competition for years. The NFL finally implemented one and people like you are STILL whining.

    SMH

  42. Many years ago a Pro team played college all stars. I know with the money today that will never happen but that was good to watch. The college players want to win and the pros did not want to lose

  43. …..So Matthew Stafford won’t even give the Pro Bowl “The Finger?”…….LOL..!

    That says it all……

  44. Pre-season “exhibition” games are more interesting than the Pro Bowl. At least the players are trying, even though many of them will never play in a regular season NFL game.

  45. Honestly i would rather watch them play dodge ball then BS probowl football. Maybe just turn it into a rock paper scissors contest or get actors to play a scripted football game for them. like pro wrestling.

    i know pro wrestling is very dangerous and takes true athletes. but the scripted football game wouldn’t be

  46. It’s probably already been said, but this is 100% about playing a game to generating more ticket revenue, selling more $12.00 beers and $8.00 hot dogs, and lining the owner and the league pockets further.

    They need to have an on-field, no or low contact skills competition that is engaging and would drive similar sales of seats and concessions. That is what they need to work on. Not trying to figure out what to pay millionaires to possibly injure themselves and then in turn put a worse product on the field next year.

    BTW, the simple fix for what they player gets should be 75% of a normal game check for being on the losing team or 125% of a normal game check for the winning team, using that players base pay from their current season contact.

  47. This should be the week of the Toilet Bowl – the two worst teams playing each other – this year it would be SF and CLE. Winner gets a chromed toilet bowl trophy and first pick in the draft.

  48. akira1971 says:
    Jan 27, 2017 10:01 AM
    And for those commenters that complain about the quality of the actual game – here’s a suggestion: DON’T WATCH IT. However, there are those of us that want to watch it for the fun factor.

    Reminder: the Pro Bowl averages 12 million viewers, which is still more than the typical NBA or MLB playoff game. You may not like it, but clearly some of us do.

    But seriously, that the NFL should cancel it just because YOU don’t like watching it is a stupid reason.
    ___________________________________
    A voice of sanity here. Thank you! I don’t get the complaints here. Your TV has a channel changer. And an off button! Go watch some figure skating if you don’t want to see football. And the NFL does make enough money to increase pay outs to something like $250K for the winners and $50K for the losers–that would make them compete harder.

  49. Two words…”Robert Edwards.”

    Players make way too much money to take part in a meaningless game that nobody watches for chump change.

  50. Scrap the current format. Scrap the current Hall of Fame game. Instead, play the Pro Bowl during HOF weekend in Canton. This replaces two meaningless games with one. Logistics can be worked out.

  51. And not a single one of them turned down the contract incentives that go with it, right? Fix it the easy way. Eliminate the selection altogether…not just the game. That renders all the contract incentives for pro bowl selection useless. Then the players can blame themselves for killing that little money stream because they were too busy rearranging their sock drawer to bother with playing in the pro bowl farce.

  52. “and that’s obviously an acceptable reason”

    Wait a minute – that’s a very judgemental statement.
    Acceptable to whom?

    What would be an “unacceptable” reason?

  53. When your pro bowl center is jason kelce of the eagles – that alone tells you that 15 centers in the nfc passed on the opportunity to play.

    signed – eagles fan

  54. Worst part below average players get a Pro Bowl notch on their belt because the 5 players chosen before them declined. Terry Bridgewater a pro bowler, that’s a joke last year.

  55. It’s a ritual like trimming the turkey, decorating the tree, and bashing Roger Goddell: hating on the Pro Bowl.

    But it gets the ratings. I don’t care. You probably don’t care. But it gets the ratings. And until it stops getting the ratings on a consistent basis, it will go on and on, even if it has the fifth best quarterback, evenif it’s little more than flag football.

    People watch football. Maybe not as many as used to, maybe not as many as the NFL wants. But if it’s on TV, be it the Super Bowl, a meaningless all-star game populated by third tier players, or the Idaho Potato Bowl, people watch.

    And then they complain. It’s a tradition unlike any other.

  56. It’s time to end this debacle once and for all. For all kinds of reasons, you can’t have an NFL All Star game that’s actually any good. Players don’t want to get hurt, the game comes at a lousy time (between the end of the season and the Super Bowl), no players from the Super Bowl teams are even considered, nobody plays defense or even works hard during the game, the players are already rich so they don’t care about the money, there’s nothing to play for and no real incentive to win, etc. Just stop this mediocre excuse for a football game. The NFL is rich enough without foisting this mess on the public.

  57. Hmm. Lot of nobody watches sure turned in to the tune of 8 million people last year….Probably the highest cable rating of that day last year… So it’s not going anywhere folks… Point of fact. Regardless… I always watch it… Then again. I watched the Senior Bowl practices… lol.

  58. Look, people….that’s enough bickering. The Pro Bowl represents the very best of the best in the NFL.

    Well…maybe not the BEST of the best…but MOST of the best.

    Well, actually…it’s SOME of the best…but the other guys are really good, too.

    No? Okay, well….how about a bunch random guys you may or may not know, many of whom who rank in the top 50th percentile at their respective positions?

    Nailed it.

  59. kemp13 says:
    Jan 27, 2017 12:45 PM
    Scrap the current format. Scrap the current Hall of Fame game. Instead, play the Pro Bowl during HOF weekend in Canton. This replaces two meaningless games with one. Logistics can be worked out.
    ————-
    So rather than put an elite player at risk after the season, you think it’s a good idea to put those players at risk BEFORE the season even starts? Are you serious? Lol.

  60. Everyone on here talking about how they don’t watch it and want it cancelled. I don’t watch it either.

    But, someone does watch it. In fact, quite a few people watch it, based on the ratings. So, it won’t go away, even if it means you have the 8th choice of QB playing for the AFC. (Wasn’t that the post last week when Rivers made it?)

    If you don’t watch it, just ignore it. But, when the NFL sees traffic like this on posts about the Pro Bowl, they will take that as interest in the game. I don’t care if they play it, but hope no players on my favorite team get injured.

  61. wrossi81 says:
    Jan 27, 2017 10:23 AM
    The Skills Showdown was a lot of fun if you caught it last night. Beckham’s catch on the last round of the Drone Drop was epic and the friendly competition between him and Jarvis Landry really made the whole show fun.

    Not much point to the game itself though TBH.
    —————————————————————-
    Well of course it was friendly competition between Beckham and Landry…they are life partners.

  62. dsigrey says:
    Jan 27, 2017 9:34 AM
    Waste. Just name the all-stars and skip the game. They should have them go to the super bowl and be part of the fan experience instead. Have them available for autograph sessions and showcases. This would also allow players who’s teams don’t make it there, experience it in a different way.

    =====================================

    That’s actually a great idea.

  63. How about opening the Pro Bowl Game up to international venues? It would entice players to want to travel and take their families, and would help promote the brand globally. What better way for fans around the world see their favorite player? In a game that doesn’t mean anything, you really think the international fans would care about who wins/losses? Nope. They are just their for the experience.

    If the NFL makes this happen, I want my cut..

  64. Football is a rough game, and no All-star wants to get injured over 30k or 60k, for a meaningless game. I mean, they are ‘playing’ for the 30k. They are showing up for the 30k. When you factor in taxes, they are playing for 15k, which is less than 0.5% of a typical all-star salary.
    Definitely have to jack up the Pro Bowl game salary. Less no shows, and the one’s who do show will be eager.
    Actually, when I think about it, 30k x 16 games = $480k, which is about league min?
    And your asking an All-Star to play for that?!

    I bet the ones who are showing, are the one’s who have issues balancing a check book…lol

    As sloppy and grit-less as the game is, it is fun to watch for those weaning themselves off football. I’ll be watching it. There is always some dude who pushes it too far and then a game breaks out.

    Maybe even have MVP bonuses for all three sides (offense, defense and special teams). Exclude the QB, as they are all handsomely paid.

  65. “Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, for instance, insisted in December that he was fine playing through his finger injury, but when he was given a Pro Bowl invitation this week as an alternate, he declined because of his finger.”

    Which finger was he holding up when he said that?

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