I set the reminder on the DVR, just in case I could possibly forget, made sure my schedule was clear and when 7 p.m. arrived, was nestled snugly in my unraveling old recliner, fully committed to giving the Pro Bowl a chance.
No less trusted an authority than Peyton Manning had insisted the game would be more competitive this year, which wasn’t exactly setting the bar high, but it gave us some hope the players would care almost as much as the viewers.
The wavering began with the ridiculous pre-game show. Seriously, does the NFL think everything is made better by an over-staged production featuring a soon-to-be has-been artist? Train apparently hasn’t released anything since “Soul Sister,” since that’s the only song the once-proud band has performed in public for as long as I can remember (a span which, for the record, stretches all the way back to breakfast).
That’s OK, I told myself. Football is worth the wait.
And then Adrian Peterson fumbled – or possibly failed to drop-kick – the first handoff, J.J. Watt lined up at wide receiver and my will was quickly broken. I had no choice but to wave the white flag.
I turned to my wife and uttered the ultimate words of a defeated husband: “OK, honey, we can watch that recording of Dance Moms now.”
I did not see Andrew Luck pass for 205 yards and two touchdowns to A.J. Green (not to mention an interception and a fumble). I did see Reggie Wayne catch Manning’s first pass, a nice little touch but not exactly compelling entertainment. I did not see Robert Mathis produce five tackles including a sack of Russell Wilson.
I do not feel as though I missed anything at all.
The Pro Bowl is by far the worst of the major all-star games, comically non-competitive, lacking in any meaning. Many of the players themselves don’t even care, feigning injuries to avoid a free trip to Hawaii just so they don’t have to be associated with this travesty.
And yet, nearly as many people watch the worst pro football has to offer as the absolute best baseball can produce – the World Series. This, I simply cannot explain.
Even so, the Pro Bowl is very much in jeopardy.
After last year’s pillow fight, Commissioner Roger Goodell threatened to remove the game from the NFL schedule once and for all, which is odd because what transpires on the field during the Pro Bowl is what we’re going to get every Sunday if the Player Safety Police are ultimately successful in their coup.
All kinds of fixes have been suggested, some serious, some not so much.
Does football need the Pro Bowl? Not even a little bit.
But a substantial portion of the viewing public simply cannot satiate its hunger for pigskin, and so it should remain in some form or fashion.
As for me, well, let’s just say my wife will look forward to the Pro Bowl every year. For those three hours, she will control the remote.