The best part of Sunday’s Pro Bowl?
When the Hawaiian crowd started booing Aaron Rodgers and the nonchalant play of the NFC offense in the first quarter.
The half-hearted play early on reminded me why I’ve never watched an entire Pro Bowl, which has to be the least compelling and competitive All-Star event among the major American sports.
There’s just nothing to play for in the Pro Bowl (unlike in the Major League Baseball All-Star, where the leagues play for home field advantage in the World Series), and most of the veterans there have nothing to prove.
Especially after all of the upsets this year, when Super Bowl champions like Rodgers and Drew Brees had planned on making a run at Indianapolis … not taking an early vacation in Hawaii.
So how do you fix it? Well, the players definitely need some more motivation. I’m not saying we need to throw more money at these guys, but it was clear on Sunday who was playing for something.
Discarded wide receiver Brandon Marshall — traded from Tebow Time to Dolphin Debacle this season — went into the game telling friends and family he would be the Pro Bowl MVP and that he was taking nothing for granted this year. And he didn’t, scoring four touchdowns to capture MVP honors, not to mention two of the best touchdown catches we’ve seen all season.
Meanwhile, many of the proven veterans went out and played at 70%, spending more energy on their in-game tweets than they did on their game.
So why not alter the payouts for the game? Instead of $50,000 to the winners and $25,000 to the losers. Make it $75,000 and $0 for the losers.
Maybe that would weed out all the players who have nothing to play for. I mean, if they can’t get up for an all-star game, especially if there’s a chance they don’t get paid, do we really want them there in the first place?
I’d rather watch an all-star game made up of less talented players with something to prove than the 100-point joke we saw tonight.
In fact, here’s my list of replacements I would have preferred to see Sunday, given they still have tons to play for heading into next season:
Tim Tebow: Instead of watching Tebow courtside tonight hugging it out with Chauncey Billups, he should have been forced to throw the ball against a non-AFC West secondary. Although it’s not like his numbers couldn’t have been any worse than Cam Newton’s (9 of 27 with 3 INTs).
Peyton Manning: Time to stop talking and start throwing, even if it’s just in a Pro Bowl pregame. Manning is probably the player who has the most to prove this offseason if he expects to play another game in the NFL, let alone for a gutted franchise that’s poised to draft the next John Elway in a couple months.
Entire Indianapolis Colts team: Let’s face it, every single player on the Colts roster has something to prove this offseason after one of the most brutal downturns in NFL history. Did you see Dwight Freeney go after Newton late in that game today? That was the first time a defensive player hustled all afternoon.
Billy Cundiff: Who wouldn’t have liked to see the Billy scapegoat line up for a 32-yarder in this one? In fact, I would have been in favor of trading Baltimore teammate Ray Lewis to the NFC’s special team squad, giving Ray-Ray a chance to shank the kicker who shanked his Super Bowl shot. Now that’s must-see TV.
Kyle Williams: Speaking of not-so-special teams, Williams would have been another one of my replacements. Watching the 49ers return man try to return one of Sebastian Janikowski’s bombs would have been a riot. No seriously, it would have created a riot among any Niners fans that made the trip to Hawaii.
Aldon Smith: Another Niner who has plenty to prove. I’m sure San Francisco fans would rather have their star rookie linebacker in Hawaii instead of one of the country’s most “inhumane” jail systems. There’s no denying Smith left it all on the field this season, leading rookies with 14 sacks, but the potential defensive rookie of the year now has everything to prove in 2012 after failing to leave his keys behind on Saturday night.
Jim Harbaugh & Jim Schwartz: Let’s keep picking on San Francisco here and think about how awesome it would have been to see the Niners and Lions head coaches on the same sideline Sunday. If they nearly went to blows after a postgame handshake, Tebow only knows what the two would do when trying to defend the triple option with a bunch of toasted linebackers and head-stomping defensive ends.
But I guess we’ll just have to wait ’til next year. Boooooo!