This Sunday, for the 79th time, a major American professional football organization will have its All-Star game.
The first “Pro Bowl” was played on January 15, 1939 at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles. The first Player of the Game Award was given to Otto Graham after the 1951 game.
After five different venues in its first six games, the Pro Bowl eventually found a home at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, HI in 1980. Since then, all but one of the NFL’s 35 all-star games have been played there.
This year, perhaps in an effort to attract Super Bowl fans to Phoenix one week early, the Pro Bowl will be played at University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona (the site of Super Bowl XLIX).
The Pro Bowl is something fun to watch. For the first time in 20 weeks, there’s no competitive NFL game on TV, so it fills a void, too. Players view it as a vacation of sorts, the playbook is extremely simplified, and many efforts are made to ensure light contact, if any.
Unfortunately for Brian Moorman, in 2006, Sean Taylor didn’t get that memo.
In 2013, something happened that hadn’t happened before. Jeff Saturday, who was retiring after the Pro Bowl, was a member of the NFC team. His teammate of 13 years, Peyton Manning, was the quarterback for the AFC. Early in the game, for one play, Saturday lined up on the AFC offensive line and snapped the ball to Manning, one final time.
That was a cool moment. But in all honestly, it doesn’t seem like the Pro Bowl matters.
In the regular season, fantasy football, rivalries, and playoff races inject intrigue into every single game. Therefore, it creates a bit of perplexity amongst fans when the NFL tries to tell them the Pro Bowl should be interesting when they know it’s less meaningful than a preseason game.
After all, many of the players that are voted in don’t go because they’re either injured, are playing in the Super Bowl, or just don’t want to go.
That brings me to my next point: Can we please stop attributing Pro Bowl selections to a players’ name as evidence of their greatness?
Joe Flacco was offered a spot this year, but declined. Andy Dalton and Matt Ryan were offered spots and accepted. Is anyone going to tell me with a straight face that because Dalton and Ryan are going to be on a 2015 Pro Bowl roster that they’re better than Flacco? If they do, expect a ROFL!
Speaking of Pro Bowl selections, the Ravens who will be playing in Phoenix this weekend are: Elvis Dumervil, Justin Forsett, C.J. Mosley, and Marshal Yanda.
In 19 seasons, the Ravens have had 33 players elected to the Pro Bowl a combined 91 times. Ray Lewis has been selected the most times in franchise history (13), while Jonathan Ogden holds the team record for consecutive nominations (11).
People get bent out of shape on who makes the Pro Bowl and who doesn’t. But let’s be honest, the game is meaningless and about as real as Pamela Anderson.
It might be fun to watch if you have nothing else going on.
But if the players aren’t going to take it seriously, why should we?