The teams are set for the NFL Pro Bowl in Hawaii. NFL Hall of Famers Deion Sanders and Jerry Rice selected their squads. It's hard to say which team will have the edge, or if there will be any defense played, but hopefully it'll be better than previous years.
Here's a look at the rosters:
|Team Sanders||Position||Team Rice|
|Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts||QB||Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers|
|Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers||QB||Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs|
|Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles||QB||Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints|
|RB||LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles|
|Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers||RB||Matt Forte, Chicago Bears|
|Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins||RB||DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys|
|A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals||WR||Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears|
|Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys||WR||Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns|
|Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers||WR||Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears|
|DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles||WR||Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals|
|Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns||TE||Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints|
|Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys||TE||Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons|
|Branden Albert, Kansas City Chiefs||OT||Joe Thomas, Cleveland Browns|
|Trent Williams, Washington Redskins||OT||Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys|
|Duane Brown, Houston Texans||OT||Jordan Gross, Carolina Panthers|
|Mario Williams, Buffalo Bills||DE||Cameron Jordan, New Orleans Saints|
|Greg Hardy, Carolina Panthers||DE||Cameron Wake, Miami Dolphins|
|J.J. Watt, Houston Texans||DE|
|Tamba Hali, Kansas City Chiefs||OLB||Justin Houston, Kansas City Chiefs|
|Brian Orakpo, Washington Redskins (via trade)||OLB||John Abraham, Arizona Cardinals|
|Terrell Suggs, Baltimore Ravens||OLB||Robert Mathis, Indianapolis Colts (via trade)|
|Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers||ILB||Vontaze Burfict, Cincinnati Bengals|
|Paul Posluszny, Jacksonville Jaguars||ILB||Derrick Johnson, Kansas City Chiefs|
|Tim Jennings, Chicago Bears||CB||Alterraun Verner, Tennessee Titans|
|Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals||CB||Joe Haden, Cleveland Browns|
|Darrelle Revis, Tampa Bay Buccaneers||CB||Brandon Flowers, Kansas City Chiefs|
|Brent Grimes, Miami Dolphins||CB||Antonio Cromartie, New York Jets|
|T.J. Ward, Cleveland Browns||S||Antrel Rolle, New York Giants|
|Eric Berry, Kansas City Chiefs||S||Jairus Byrd, Buffalo Bills|
|Eric Weddle, San Diego Chargers||S||Eric Reid, San Francisco 49ers|
|Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens||K||Stephen Gostkowski, New England Patriots|
|Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings||PR||Dexter McCluster, Kansas City Chiefs|
The early reaction from media and fans wasn't overwhelmingly favorable for the Pro Bowl draft. It was a bit long, and even the players seemed to lose interest at some point. Rice kept asking if the audience in attendance was having fun.
Those people were in Hawaii, so it's only natural that their response was "yes!!" Matt Hickey was one of those lucky fans in attendance. He tweeted this pic:
Pro Bowl Draft, a little windy, but it's 80, so not complaining! pic.twitter.com/qys9v7YPaM— Matt Hickey (@mtthickey) January 23, 2014
In contrast, fans watching from their living rooms were probably yelling the opposite at their television sets. It's funny how a sunny day changes someone's opinion about a less-than-ideal experience.
The Twitter Reaction
The Positives...Sort of
In all honesty, it was difficult finding anyone with good things to say about the Pro Bowl draft. However, through due diligence, there were a few that offered their stamp of approval.
Consider This from MichaelWortham.com doesn't think this new idea was a bad one.
This Pro Bowl draft wasn't a bad idea. These players are tight that they're getting picked in the late rounds. All in their feelings LOL— #ConsiderThis (@Consider_This3) January 23, 2014
He also spoke about the noticeable angst on the face of the players that were selected late in the process. More on that later.
Team Sanders captain, and Houston Texans stud defensive end, J.J. Watt seemingly got bored and started snapping pics of Prime Time in between selections.
JJ Zachiariason of Number Fire was one of the few without a backhanded compliment for the process.
Seriously, I'm a fan of this Pro Bowl draft.— JJ Zachariason (@LateRoundQB) January 23, 2014
Did this new idea capture the attention of the masses?
D.J. M'Bewe likes the draft, but he still worries about the game itself.
The Pro Bowl Draft was fun (to some degree), but I don't think it will make Sunday's game any more exciting.— D.J. M'Bewe (@JD360Power) January 23, 2014
Fanfare and star power are awesome, but if players don't compete on the field, the game will still lack the "it" factor that makes it compelling for fans. Statements like this one from the Cincinnati Bengals' Vontaze Burfict doesn't paint a competitive picture for Sunday.
He said this to Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL.com.
Vontaze Burfict and AJ Green are on different Pro Bowl teams. Burfict: "If he catches one over the middle, I'll let him go." #merchandise— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) January 23, 2014
John Kincade of CBS Sports bashed the process from the beginning. He feels the Pro Bowl is damaging an otherwise solid NFL product.
It's as if the NFL has meetings saying "We are just too successful, how can we screw it up a little?" Idiotic Pro Bowl nonsense.— John Kincade (@JohnKincade) January 23, 2014
The guys from Awful Announcing didn't cut it any slack either.
The Pro Bowl Draft may be worse than the actual Pro Bowl. That’s really saying something. http://t.co/TpkYMaWKGc— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) January 23, 2014
While everything about the NFL isn't successful, the majority of it is. Continuing to try and prop this concept up doesn't seem to be working. Usually, successful businesses cut their losses after a while.
Christopher Hansen of Bleacher Report asks the Twitterverse to fill in the blank.
Pro Bowl draft is longer than _________?— Christopher Hansen (@ChrisHansenNFL) January 23, 2014
Hmm, let's see. It was longer than two episodes of Law and Order: SVU. It was longer than Argo, the film that won Best Picture at the 85th Academy Awards. We could go on forever.
The point is, it was pretty friggin' long.
Will Brinson of CBS Sports said it felt like a celebrity sporting event.
Pro Bowl Draft feels like a Rock 'N Jock thing. And JJ Watt should retire and work in vice already pic.twitter.com/9m68gp9G2E— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) January 23, 2014
Was that really the feel the NFL was shooting for? Probably not.
Perhaps something like an old Rock 'n' Jock event would be more compelling than the current concept. You gotta wonder if Burfict would just let Justin Bieber go if he caught a pass over the middle.
The NFL is trying to make fans care about this event. It's a big deal to honor the best in a sport, but there is still a long way to go to change the minds of guys like Mikey from the Morning Freak Show on Pittsburgh's 96.1 KISS FM.
Totally forgot the NFL Pro Bowl Draft is on!!!! pic.twitter.com/cCMDhWSLie— Mikey (@fsmikey) January 23, 2014
The Best Way to Fix This
The fact is, football is a physical and grueling sport. Players don't want to get hurt. Don't believe it? Just ask the Detroit Lions' Glover Quin.
I think it should be skills company’s maybe flag tourney! Nobody wants to get hurt in Pro Bowl!!— Glover Quin Jr (@GloverQuin27) January 23, 2014
Because of this, players just aren't going to go hard in the game. The NFL knows this, and that's the reason it is trying to create an attraction around the game itself. This idea was a bad one.
Would a skills competition be better than a traditional Pro Bowl game?
It got boring, the players who weren't selected early seemed genuinely insulted in a venue where they should be getting honored.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith endured rejection in San Francisco. He was traded to Kansas City where he had a great season in 2013.
On Wednesday, he gets slapped in the face by being "Mr. Not-So-Irrelevant" at the Pro Bowl? That's insane.
The NFL should listen to Quin and fans everywhere. Make a skills competition of some sort centered around the titles that the players actually care about.
Here are a few suggestions: the fastest man, strongest arm, most accurate passer, highest vertical leap, strongest man, etc.
Those competitions would get the fans' attention.
Combine the NFL Honors ceremony to make it a humongous weekend for the NFL. Last but not least, push it back behind the Super Bowl.
There's no reason players from the two best teams in the NFL should be automatic exclusions from a weekend designed to honor the league's best.
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