Houston we have life! I repeat Houston we have life! Not on Mars but in Hawaii in for this year’s 2014 NFL Pro Bowl.
In years past, the Pro Bowl has been anything but a real game. In years past, many fans have questioned the effort given by the players. I personally have memories from last year’s game and remember watching the players just basically walking instead of running. The effort was so poor in last year’s game that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell threatened to take the game away if the effort didn’t improve.
The players seemed to have answered the call and responded well to the new format which moves away from the traditional NFC vs AFC but to a real life fantasy football draft. One team was run by Hall Fame receiver Jerry Rice while the other by Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders.
The two teams selected their captions: quarterback Drew Brees and defensive end Robert Quinn for team Rice and defensive end JJ Watt along with running back Jamaal Charles for team Sanders. The teams also had a two day draft in which they picked linemen on Tuesday and skill players on Wednesday.
Teams Rice and Sanders took the field Sunday with a whole new motivation than in years past: the players actually wanted to win. The rule change of the game also brought a new found life to the event. Some of the rules consisted of a change of position after every quarter which meant there was four two minute warnings instead of the traditional two. This brought an up tempo style of play to end of every quarter which made it more exciting. Another major rule change was the ability for the cornerbacks to play press man coverage unlike in years past where they were forced to play off man. This allowed players like Patrick Peterson and Darrelle Revis to play to their strengths but it also helped with the effort of the players because when you play press man as a corner you take pride in being able to shut down the receiver across from you no matter what the circumstance is.
The Pro Bowls started out fast and the new found energy was significantly noticed from the first play when Drew Brees was sacked by Gerald Mccoy and hit the next two plays. A sack is now something new in Pro Bowl because in years past there was almost little to no pass rush. Even teammates weren’t holding back on each other with linebacker Derrick Johnson unloading on All-Pro running back and Chief teammate Jamaal Charles and safety TJ Ward flipping franchise receiver and Brown’s teammate Josh Gordon. Another thing that occurred in the all star game that had not happened before was defensive was being played. It was a low scoring game with Rice’s team coming up on top with a late score by running back Demarco Murray with a two point conversion by fullback Mike Tolbert giving Rice’s the 22-21 lead which they held the rest of the way. Nick Foles made offensive MVP and Derrick Johnson made the defensive MVP.
Clearly based off this year’s performance the Pro Bowl is here to stay for a couple more years.