Maybe it should just be touch-football. Or flag football.
The NFL’s Pro Bowl, or the league’s equivalent of an all-star game, was kind of a friendly, schoolyard, last-touchdown-wins, fratboy party in Miami on Sunday night.
Fun enough for those involved, not all that entertaining for fans of the real version of the game, but a chance for corporate schmoozers and autograph-seekers to have a great time.
In this, the first year, where the Pro Bowl served as an opening act for the Super Bowl, it was a wide-open, light-tackling, high-scoring display of "let’s have fun, but let’s not hurt each other" football.
Spectacular long touchdowns were many, serious contact hits were few, and the AFC wound up beating the NFC 41-34 on Sunday night.
It rained for the much of the day and through the game, recalling Miami’s soggy Super Bowl three years ago when the Colts outslogged the Bears.
Houston Texan’s quarterback Matt Schaub threw for 189 yards and two touchdowns for the AFC and took home the Most Valuable Player honors. Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers also tossed a couple of touchdown passes for the NFC and Philadelphia Eagles’ receiver Desean Jackson scored twice.
Organizers will call it a success, and will point to a crowd of 70, 697- the largest for a Pro Bowl since 1959 in Los Angeles, although the stadium was half empty by the third quarter, perhaps partly because of the rain and temperatures in the 60s. The tops were definately on all of the exotic rental cars at the stadium.
The NFL sought to transform the Pro Bowl into a bigger game by playing it before the Super Bowl for the first time. In a one-year experiment, the league also moved the game from Honolulu, its home since 1980. The game will return to Honolulu in 2011 and 2012, but the league hasn’t decided whether to hold those games before or after the Super Bowl. The Pro Bowl site for 2013 and beyond hasn’t been determined.
While the consensus was that good fun was had by all, Miami Dolphins and South Florida organizers know they’ll have to ante up if they are to continue to be considered for such post-season events. Dolphins’ ownership has proposed adding a roof that would cover fans as part of a 250-million dollar stadium improvement plan.
Interestingly, among those watching the Pro Bowl with bemused interest, smiling at the all-offense, no-defense style game, were Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. They’ll no doubt be hoping for a little more normal NFL fare and a little more intensity next Sunday when their teams-the Colts and the Saints-clash in Super Bowl 44.
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