Jeff Saturday and Peyton Manning played 181 regular-season games together with the Indianapolis Colts from the time Saturday was drafted in 1999 until Manning’s last appearance for the organization in 2010. Now that the center has announced his retirement, the 2013 Pro Bowl marked Saturday’s final NFL game.
Even after a year of Manning chucking passes in the thin air of Denver and Saturday snapping—or not snapping—footballs to another All-Pro quarterback in Aaron Rodgers, it was unusual for football fans to see the two lined up as they were Sunday.
Jeff Saturday snaps his last career ball to his old teammate Peyton Manning, even though he plays in the NFC twitter.com/BleacherReport…— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 28, 2013
Manning was in the AFC white jersey with a Denver Broncos helmet on. Saturday: NFC blue with a Green Bay Packers lid.
Meanwhile, Reggie Wayne had his familiar AFC digs with Indianapolis’ helmet. The Broncos and Colts didn’t play against each other this year, which didn’t afford the prolific QB-WR combination too many photo opportunities—but the Pro Bowl did.
While the above snapshots may hold sentimental value to fans, the competitive value of the Pro Bowl has recently been much maligned. Houston Texans running back Arian Foster gave the Associated Press (via NFL.com) a reason for that:
“I think it’s an honor and a tradition, but for you to expect the best athletes in the NFL to come out and play a game 100 percent when you can’t game plan, you can’t blitz, you can’t do all these things, it’s not going to be competitive like everybody wants it to be.”
He’s right—which is why guys are tweeting on the sideline.
Derrick Johnson balled out, contributing a pick-six to the AFC’s 35-point output. Normally, 35 points is a respectable total…but this was the Pro Bowl. This was a game in which it’s apparently acceptable to not only line up—and throw to, on multiple occasions—your defensive end (J.J. Watt) at wide receiver, but to throw an interception to the other team’s DE (Jason Pierre-Paul) as well.
The NFC scored 62 points.
Still, the trip to Hawaii to collect a paycheck seems to be a welcome idea among plenty of NFL players. Defensive Player of the Year candidate J.J. Watt was willing to use the fact that he looked like he was boxing with a blender blade in the first quarter to appeal to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on the sideline: “They can’t say we don’t play hard in this game, you know? Hey, Commish, we’re playing hard!”
That’s a pretty solid case that guys want to be there.
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