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Pro Bowl ended with a bad beat for gamblers

Antonio-Cromartie-Pro-BowlThe only way that anyone could possibly have a rooting interest in the Pro Bowl is if you gambled on the game. Otherwise, it is known for being one of the most meaningless and boring sporting events of the calendar year. For those who did place a wager on Sunday night’s game, the ending was incredibly nerve-wracking.

Team Rice entered the game as a 1.5-point favorite over Team Sanders. The final score of the game was 22-21 in favor of Rice’s team, but should they have actually won by more?

With just seconds remaining, Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker attempted a 67-yard field goal that would have given Team Sanders the win. The kick came up short and Team Rice’s Antonio Cromartie fielded it in the end zone. Players and coaches began flooding the field after Tucker missed the kick, but Cromartie decided to weave through the crowd and return the kick the other way.

Technically, the ball was still live. Terrell Suggs chased after Cromartie but was unable to catch him before he reached the end zone. Cromartie’s field goal return should have given Team Rice another six points and been enough to cover the spread, but the score did not count for whatever reason.

As Shutdown Corner noted, 60 percent of the Pro Bowl gambling money was placed on Team Rice. Team Sanders wound up covering the spread after Cromartie’s touchdown was not acknowledged. A gambling controversy surrounding the Pro Bowl? Now we have seen it all.

Nike unveils new uniforms for Pro Bowl

2014-Pro-Bowl-uniforms

Yet another significant change has been made to the NFL Pro Bowl. Players who are selected to participate in the 2014 edition of “The Game That Just Won’t Go Away” will no longer be rocking red and blue uniforms. On Tuesday, Nike unveiled new uniforms for the 2014 Pro Bowl that have an entirely different look and feel.

The new threads are more in line with the uniform war that has been going on across college football for a few years now. One team will wear white and orange while the other wears black and neon yellow. The black and yellow uniforms bear a striking resemblance to some of the designs Oregon has worn recently, which is no surprise since Nike designed them.

Over the summer, the NFL announced that it has eliminated the traditional AFC vs. NFC format and that teams will now be chosen fantasy draft-style by captains. The game is well on its way to being saved (not).

Photo: Twitter/Sporting News

Devin Hester on Pro Bowl eliminating kickoffs: ‘That will suck for me’

devin-hesterChicago Beard wide receiver Devin Hester has never been much of a pass catcher. He hauled in only 49 passes over the past two seasons, but his value to the Bears extends beyond the passing game. Above all else, Hester is a special teamer and a kick return specialist.

On Wednesday, the NFL decided that people like Hester aren’t all that important to the Pro Bowl. In the interest of player safety, kickoffs have been removed from the annual event. Each Pro Bowl team will now have an extra defensive back in place of a kick return specialist, and Hester is not happy about it.

“That was one of my goals for this season,” Hester told the Chicago Tribune. “I won’t make the Pro Bowl. They can’t do that. If you are taking the returner out of the Pro Bowl, you’re taking two positions out. That will suck for me. They are trying to change up the whole game of football and they’re messing with people’s jobs and lives.”

The game will still feature punts, but there will not be a player on each team specifically to field them. As Oakland Raiders punter Chris Kluwe pointed out, the rule change could even take money out of some players’ pockets.

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Pro Bowl teams will reportedly now be decided with fantasy draft

Players-Can-Tweet-During-Pro-BowlThe Pro Bowl has long been known as one of the most boring events of the calendar year in sports, and there is nothing the NFL seems to be able to do to change that. The latest idea to improve the annual event is going to make you laugh — bring on the fantasy draft.

On Tuesday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the NFL has decided to eliminate the traditional AFC vs. NFC Pro Bowl format. Instead, the teams will be chosen fantasy draft style by two captains. This year’s captains (or owners or managers or whatever you want to call them) are Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders, according to Schefter. Rice and Sanders will choose their teams during the Pro Bowl Draft.

Pro Football Talk added that the 86 players who go to Hawaii will still be selected by a combination of fans, coaches and players. Rice, Sanders, two of the highest vote-getters on offense and defense, and two fans will then draft teams from the group of 86.

“One of these champions will earn their spot as part of Lenovo’s Fantasy Coach of the Year program, which provides NFL.com fans a chance to be rewarded for their fantasy football skills,” the league announced. “The other champion can compete for a Pro Bowl role by playing at NFL.com/fantasy.”

[Related: NFL allows players to tweet during Pro Bowl]

The game will still be played the week before the Super Bowl, which will rule out any players who play for the AFC or NFC champion. Kickoffs have also been eliminated from the game, likely in an attempt to prevent injury.

For whatever reason, the NFL just refuses to get rid of the Pro Bowl. The idea of having the game before the Super Bowl has done essentially nothing to revive it, as evidenced by the league’s decision to incorporate a fantasy draft. I suppose it’s possible that the NFL will be able to pull some additional ratings from fans watching the draft itself on TV, but the idea sounds lame. In that sense, it’s perfect for the Honolulu classic.

The Pro Bowl will stay now that the players have agreed to try harder

Let’s be honest about the Pro Bowl: Very few people enjoy it. Most of the players who decide to participate are either flattered that they were chosen or simply feel like going to Hawaii. The game itself is nothing more than a technicality, and that is reflected in the quality of play. Despite recent rumors that the Pro Bowl is headed for extinction, the NFL has announced it will once again be played in Hawaii in 2013. Here’s why:

“The players have made it clear through the NFL Players Association that they would like the opportunity to continue to play the Pro Bowl in Hawaii,” NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Ray Anderson said in a joint release from the NFL and NFLPA. “We will support the players on this initiative to improve the Pro Bowl. We have had many discussions with the players in recent years about the Pro Bowl and they recognize that the quality of the game has not been up to NFL standards. We look forward to working with the players toward the goal of improving the competitiveness of this season’s game.”

And the players’ perspective:

“The players believe that the Pro Bowl is an important tradition,” NFLPA President Domonique Foxworth said. “We worked hard with the league to make sure the best players in the NFL are honored for their achievements on the field.”

In other words, the game is staying because the players have agreed to try harder to make it a better show. Anyone buying that? Me neither.

Photo credit: Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

Sorry, Aaron Rodgers: LeSean McCoy Says He Didn’t Try in the Pro Bowl

Anyone who gives it 100 percent at the Pro Bowl is treating the fans to a huge bonus.  Nobody expect the players to try.  As we said earlier, going to the Pro Bowl is more of a vacation than a football game for the NFC and AFC All-Stars.  Aaron Rodgers was upset with the lack of effort from the NFC squad last Sunday, but he is surely a member of the minority with that stance.  One player who admittedly disagrees with Rodgers is LeSean McCoy.

“Yeah? I’m one of those guys,” McCoy said when he was informed of Rodgers comments about the NFC team. “You walk around every practice and the guys before the games on other teams are like ‘take your time’ because we’re going on a very slow pace, very easy. And you get out there and you see guys half-doing it and you do the same thing.”

Again, that’s the way it goes.  It is sad that Rodgers is the one making headlines for complaining about it, but that just speaks to what the game represents.  It’s a country club event.  McCoy’s attitude of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” is one that is shared by most of the players who participate.  Did you see that one run McCoy had where everyone literally gave up at the line of scrimmage — including him — so he just kept on going?  Yeah, that was the Pro Bowl in a nutshell.

Aaron Rodgers Rips NFC Pro Bowl Players for Lack of Effort

The Pro Bowl is nothing more than a collection of talent vacationing to Hawaii to kick off the start of their offseason.  For fans, it’s something to watch.  For players, it’s a trip to a sunny paradise to hang out with some players they don’t normally get to spend time with.  Nobody actually cares about the game itself, right? Wrong.  Aaron Rodgers felt as though some of the players on the losing NFC side should be ashamed of the way they played.

“I’ll be honest with you,” he said in an interview with ESPN 540 in Milwaukee. “I was a little bit disappointed. I felt like some of the guys on the NFC side embarrassed themselves. I was just surprised that some of the guys either didn’t want to play or when they were in there didn’t put any effort into it.”

Surprised?  Rodgers is only a two-time Pro Bowl selection, so he is still new to the whole experience.  If he wasn’t, I doubt a lack of effort would surprise him.  Players don’t want to risk injury while playing in the Pro Bowl.  Defensive linemen just stand up after the whistle since they can’t hit the quarterback anyway.  Nobody wants to be hit with any type of force or be the one that delivers that type of hit.

“I’ve always found that when you’re going that tempo, that’s when the injuries are going to happen, not if you’re going full speed,” Rodgers reasoned. “You’re more likely to get an injury standing around a pile or just going through it half-speed.”

That may be true, but if a lack of effort in Honolulu frustrates Rodgers he should probably allow another quarterback to take his spot from now on.  That’s the Pro Bowl culture, and if anything it has gotten worse as the years pass.  It’s a vacation — not a football game.