NFL Pro Bowl: Either play or don’t play at all

As the Northeast deals with by far the coldest week of the new year, the best of the NFL are out in Hawaii, grabbing sun and pinacoladas as they prepare for the 2013 Pro Bowl.

Yes, the Pro Bowl is today in case you forgot due to the X Games, Australian Open, and the plethora of Manti Te’o coverage and memes pouring out from outlets across the country.

Last year’s Pro Bowl was an utter disgrace. As the Associated Press put it, the players “were hitting each other as though they were having a pillow fight.” No kidding.

The past two Pro Bowls have consisted of scores that make it seem Pete Carroll was the head coach for both teams with scores reaching the upper 40s and lower 50s. The Pro Bowl just hasn’t lived up the standards of an All-Star game, which is downright sad considering the amount of prestige football holds in the US, this should be the most-talked about game before the Super Bowl.

It has gotten to the point where Commissioner Roger Goodell has threatened to discontinue the Pro Bowl if the players don’t apply the same effort they exert in the regular season.

Attaboy, Roger.

Just picture if you can, Eli vs. Peyton. Luck vs. Wilson. Foster vs. Peterson. Johnson vs. Green. So many dream match-ups that can occur in one setting. Think of the magnitude this game should possess from these names. But it’s just that, it’s just a dream.

If the players of NFL want this tradition to continue, they have shut up and put up. Either play or don’t play at all. We all understand the ramifications that come with playing the game of football. It is dangerous, health-deteriorating, and just plain rough. But that is what these professionals live to do and that is why the put on their pads and helmet and take the field to the roar of thousands of screaming fans. Because they love to play football.

Being picked for the Pro Bowl is an honor and privilege and there are many in the NFL who bust their behinds daily for a chance to be recognized and unfortunately, they don’t. These players, those who are chosen to participate in the Pro Bowl, are chosen because they were recognized and to perform poorly in a game you were chosen for and a game that quite frankly should be the biggest game second to the Super Bowl this year, is disrespect to those who played the game before and those who play the game today.

It is not just me as a sports enthusiast, but a collective grievance felt from the fans of the NFL and fans of sports worldwide. This is an All-Star game filled with All-Star players who should be playing at an All-Star level in this game.  But sadly, the Pro Bowl has become a game of irrelevance; however, this can change tonight.

So here’s a plea from football fans everywhere. Gentlemen, go out there and play. Play with the passion and love you have for the game of football and play to win. Bring relevance back to the Pro Bowl and show respect for those who play the game today and played the game before you.

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