Pro Bowl 2013: Players Who Can Set an Example and Save the Annual Game

Jonathan IrwinContributor IIJanuary 23, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 30: Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings after a game against Green Bay Packers on December 30, 2012 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Packers 37-34. (Photo by Andy Clayton King/Getty Images)
Andy King/Getty Images

This season's Pro Bowl could possibly be the last, and it's time for the players to man up and play some real football. With many a respected player heading to Hawaii, it's time for them to set an example.

The annual game has always been a light-hearted affair, but it's become a joke over recent years.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was very clear on his feelings about last year's game, going as far as saying that the Pro Bowl "could be eliminated."

The message for this year is clear: Play hard in the Pro Bowl, or never play another Pro Bowl.

Here are few players who carry enough respect that if they can't get their teammates to play hard, no one can.

Peyton Manning

A longtime veteran of the game, Peyton Manning remains one of the most respectable names in the sporting world, let alone the NFL.

Manning is a mainstay at the Pro Bowl, and will be the starting QB for the AFC this season.'s Jeff Darlington recently reported that Manning is imploring players on both teams to go out and play hard. His sentiment has been backed by teammate Champ Bailey, as well as others in the NFL.

Not only can Manning go out and play hard, but he also provides a voice for those in favor of the annual game.

Adrian Peterson

After his phenomenal season, it can be argued that no one worked harder in 2012-13 than Adrian Peterson.

But even after such a season, Peterson isn't tired. Even after rushing for over 2,000 yards the running back has said he plans on playing hard in Hawaii.

Peterson may not be the statesman that Manning is, but it's impossible to deny how well respected he is—not to mention how hardworking.

If Peterson can play hard in the Pro Bowl, so can everyone else.

J.J. Watt

Even though he's just a second-year player, J.J. Watt carries plenty of respect in the NFL. He's one of the most feared players in the league.

As a young player Watt won't have the same veteran effect that Manning or Peterson will have. But the one thing Watt can do is set an example for everyone else.

The defensive end is absolutely explosive. He plays hard everyday, and the Pro Bowl should be no different.

If Watt goes out there and registers a sack—or even just plays hard at the line—it will send a message to everyone else that it's time to play a real game.

London Fletcher

A 15-year veteran of the game, London Fletcher remains one of the most respected defensive players in football.

Last season's Bart Starr Award winner will once again return to Hawaii as an alternate, though he's never once made it as a starter.

So you better believe the 37-year-old Fletcher will make the most of his opportunity, as chances are he won't have very many left in his NFL career.

If anyone can get the NFC defense fired up, it's going to be the veteran Fletcher.