Tough to call it a Pro Bowl this year
By Ferd Lewis
You could make a pretty good all-star team with Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Brett Favre and Philip Rivers at quarterback.
Trouble is you won't find any of them on the roster for the one Sunday, the NFL's Pro Bowl.
You will, however, see David Garrard, Matt Schaub and Vince Young listed.
And therein is part of the problem with playing the Pro Bowl the week before the Super Bowl, a concept the NFL is experimenting with this year.
So, if you are disappointed the NFL has taken the Pro Bowl from our shores this year for the first time in 31 years and shipped it off to south Florida, take some solace in the knowledge that this is becoming more of a junior varsity game, even as far as Pro Bowls go.
Players opting out of the Pro Bowl, citing injuries real and hyped, is nothing new, of course. It happened when Hawai'i was the host, too, though it is hard to remember a year since 1980, the year the game debuted here, when the stars have been so sparse, especially at quarterback.
As of yesterday 27 players — or about 30 percent of the players originally named to the roster — have been scratched or opted out of the game. About half of the players are from New Orleans and Indianapolis, the teams appearing in the Super Bowl. Throw in the fact the game is in a league city that most teams eventually visit anyway instead of Honolulu, is there any wonder a revolving door is spinning?
Under terms of the contract the NFL negotiated with Hawai'i, the league was able to move the game to Miami for this year to test the Super Bowl tie-in concept. Then, it has the option of playing the 2011 game, which is contracted for Aloha Stadium, at its choice of either a pre- or post-Super Bowl date. Its selection will largely depend upon a review of what happens with this week's game in Miami. Which, given the way things have been shaping up, might not make for a tough decision.
We're told the game, at 75,540-seat Sun Life Stadium, is expected to become a sellout. No surprise there if you've seen the way it has been promoted on NFL telecasts. But with the marquee names dropping out in large numbers, it may need some luck to become a critical success.
So, for the fan, mourn not the one-year hiatus from Aloha Stadium. Consider it an off-Broadway production working out the bugs before it comes back. Let the NFL come to its senses and return to a post-Super Bowl Pro Bowl for the 2011 game at Aloha Stadium.
Because at the rate things are going, the biggest name quarterback in the vicinity of Sunday's Pro Bowl might be Dan Marino. And that's only because the stadium is at 2269 Dan Marino Blvd.