I had this day planned out perfectly.  I got up early and set the DVR to record both big all-star games for the day.  First, the NHL would bring out the best in hockey to do battle.  After they were done slugging it out, the NFL stars would take the field like the mighty gladiators that they were.  What more could a true sports fan ask for? 

Sure, I knew I wouldn’t be able to plant myself in front of the TV for the entire Sunday afternoon and early evening, especially when the Super Bowl would be coming up the following Sunday.  But with the big game plan in motion, I didn’t have to worry.  I’d still be able to watch both games eventually so that I could pontificate profoundly (hey…two big words in a row!) about the similarities and differences between the two games. 

Well I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news.  The good news is, there were a lot of similarities between the two games.  The bad news is, the similarities that existed were so nauseating that I may just skip the whole thing next year. 

Anyone that watched either game should be able to guess what I’m talking about.  You should know by now how I feel about the athletes that play these two great sports.  Football is a brutal sport that requires a special level of toughness to compete.  Hockey is brutal in its own right, and the participants are, in my humble opinion, the toughest athletes in the world. 

So what the %$#&* was I watching on Sunday?  First of all, I wasn’t able to watch any of the hockey game live, so my first taste of the day was the Pro Bowl from Hawaii.  I must admit, the occasional views of the beaches and the mountainsides were overwhelming.  Thank goodness, because within the sidelines there wasn’t a single thing that was even remotely exciting.  To say it was underwhelming would be completely unfair to all things underwhelming.  This game would have had to improve to even approach the level of underwhelming. 

There were so many things about this game that were just completely wrong, I could end up with novella (that’s longer than a short story but not as long as a novel, in case you were wondering!) if I were to cover all of them.  So I’ll just touch on a few.  Hmmmm, where should we start? 

How about defense?  Or should I say, the complete lack of it?  Look I understand that these guys don’t want to risk injury for a simple all-star game, but at least make it look like you’re trying to play defense.  I’d bet there are a lot of defensive players that were home watching the game on TV that would have loved to have been in Hawaii all week and then actually participated in the game. 

Seriously, when the ball is thrown to the receiver that you are supposed to cover, maybe you should actually try to jump up in the air and knock the ball down or, dare I say it, try to intercept the ball!  Ooooh, what a concept!  But no, there appeared to be an unwritten rule that if the ball is in the vicinity of the receiver, let him have it and don’t, for any reason, try to tackle him. 

I know what you’re thinking.  “Then why did Cam Newton throw three interceptions?”  Do I really need to answer that?  Did you see the balls that were intercepted?  Listen, the defenders can only play along if the ball is within five yards of the receivers, but c’mon…these passes weren’t even that close!  And that was with absolutely no (real) pressure on him.  Well, at least not until he started breaking away from the defenders that “had him in the grasp”!  I guess Mr. Newton didn’t read the rules regarding the dos and don’ts for the QBs.  Like “We won’t hit you as long as you don’t make us look bad in the process.” 

They even changed some of the rules from the regular season just for this game.  Such as no blitzes allowed, no more than four defensive backs on the field at one time and the defense must run a 4-3 at all times.  I heard that next year they’re going to add another rule.  Any defender that gets any grass or soil stains on their uniform will be ejected from the game. 

How can a real fan feel anything but cheated after watching this farce of a game.  I would have more respect for the game had the players been dressed out in shorts and tee shirts with a Velcro flag belt wrapped around their wastes.  At least they would have been honest about what they were trying to achieve and not treating the fans like they were a bunch of morons. 

This is the second major step the NFL has taken in making the Pro Bowl the most obsolete game in the wide, wide world of sports.  Their first move in that direction was when they decided to move the game to the week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl.  Doesn’t logic tell you that the two teams that make it to the Super Bowl will have a good chance of having four or five players each on the all-stars?  Well, placing the game into the week before the Super Bowl, there’s no chance of them playing in the game, which means they will be replaced by players that otherwise would not have been on the team.  Again, who cares what the fans think! 

Look, I’m sure there were plenty of people that watched the, ahem, game last Sunday that actually enjoyed it.  Let’s see, there would be the team owners and player agents, both of whom were very happy that their players didn’t do anything to risk injury.  Then there would be all quarterbacks and receivers, all of whom were allowed to play the game virtually untouched.  The running backs still took a bit of a beating, but nothing like they were used to getting during the regular season. 

Ironically, the people that were cheated the most were the players.  The best players in the game for this season were selected to be on the team and showcase their talents for all to see and appreciate.  Instead, they were restricted from doing that very thing.  Look, anybody who’s played the game before could go out and catch a pass if they weren’t being covered.   But these guys were selected because they were able to make the great catches all season long with the very best defenders on them.  How come we weren’t allowed to see that?  The same argument can be made for every position on both sides of the ball and special teams.  It’s a shame that the players weren’t allowed to play.  It’s also a shame that the fans had nothing to get excited about.  Don’t be surprised if they don’t come back again next year.  Maybe they’ll decide to go to the park with their buddies and get a real game going!



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