The 2013 edition of the NFL Pro Bowl is this Sunday. After last year's all-star walk-through, the league nearly cancelled the game this year, despite actually receiving high ratings numbers. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was set to pull the plug on the annual embarrassment to the league, ending the painful practice of watching the top players in the league back out of the game, or, if they did play, watching them give it half effort as they made sure they did not injure themselves.
However, NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith asked that the league hold the 2013 edition of the game as one last chance for the players to prove the contest was still viable. Which brings us to this weekend.
The NFL is once again set to host the Pro Bowl in Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii. And, all eyes will be watching to see if this year's game is any better than recent versions of the contest.
Peyton Manning is currently giving a rousing speech to Pro Bowl selections about giving a full effort to keep Goodell from canceling game.— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) January 23, 2013
Peyton Manning tells Pro Bowlers that last 2 years of play were "unacceptable," urges for intensity. Story from Hawaii: on.nfl.com/WgjBuG— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) January 23, 2013
Darlington also pointed out that many players value the game because it gives them a chance to meet. Defensive back Champ Bailey, who, along with Manning, is making his 12th Pro Bowl appearance, told Darlington, "
(Manning's talk) meant a lot because I think we do get over here and get relaxed. The sense of urgency leading up to the game isn't there. It takes something like that to get you going, to understand the importance of it. I get it. We should play hard.
"Peyton said it best," Bailey continued. "The players who have played in this game are in the Hall of Fame. If they get rid of this game, guys are going to miss out. You won't even know who you played against because you never get a chance to meet them. It's good for that reason and many others."
Manning told the players that, because of the Pro Bowl, he has had a chance to play with seven players who have since been inducted into the Hall of Fame, as well as six Super Bowl champion coaches. Manning explained that the chance to meet and worth with each of those players and coaches has helped him improve his game. Losing the Pro Bowl would take that away from future all-stars.
The Pro Bowl kicks off Sunday at 7pm Eastern.