NFL Pro Bowl 2011: How Serious are Rumors of Japan Hosting a Super Bowl?

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NFL Pro Bowl 2011: How Serious are Rumors of Japan Hosting a Super Bowl?
Scott Halleran/Getty Images
January 31, 2010: Part of the Pro Bowl cheerleading/dance team poses in Miami. They won't be posing in 2011.

How long before rumors of a Super Bowl played in Japan surface? The rumors could start after you’re done reading this article.

After a 30-year run in Hawaii, could the NFL move the Pro Bowl further west to the Japanese Islands? Perhaps.

The NFL definitely wants to strengthen the Pro Bowl and expand American football’s appeal in Japan. 

In Tokyo, Japan, America’s brand of football lags behind baseball, basketball, sumo and soccer. Stay tuned for my report on Japanese national football coming soon.

Ritsumeikan University-Kyoto coach Akira Yonekura will be on the NFC sideline and Waseda University coach, Hiroyuki Yabe, will be assisting Bill Belichick for the AFC. 

He lost the collegiate national championship game in Japan to Yonekura and is out for "revenge."

Coaching the NFC, Mike Smith of the Atlanta Falcons represented at the press conference on Tuesday, but Belichick was missing. He reportedly had flight trouble and was due to be in Hawaii on Wednesday—the day practice started.

The game moved back to Hawaii after it moved down to Miami last year. Players, including Peyton Manning, complained about the Pro Bowl possibly ending up in “cities that are not desirable vacation destinations.” 

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
January 8, 2011: Peyton Manning stands on the field in Indianapolis. He is probably smiling since the Pro Bowl is back in Honolulu.

Were the players—including Ray Lewis—concerned about the Pro Bowl being held in say, um, Cleveland? I'd say they were.

Joakim Noah of the NBA’s Chicago Bulls was probably their consultant on the prospect of Cleveland being a potential host city for the Pro Bowl. 

Last year, Noah asked the national media the press conference: What’s so good about Cleveland? 

He could have been posturing for positioning in the LeBron James free-agency sweepstakes. Manning feels what Noah was saying though, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell heard the Pro Bowl players.

The NFL’s all-star game was played at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Fla., in 2010.  It returns to Hawaii through 2012. The Super Bowl, by the way, was also held at Sun Life in 2010. 

Rumors of Goodell moving the Super Bowl to England had the United States in an uproar. Even so, I can envision a scenario where Goodell tries to pull a fast one. 

He’ll try to slip Japan by as the next destination for the bowl of all bowls—to make England seem not so far away.

He’s starting his campaign with the gestures to Japan in the Pro Bowl. It kicks off at 7 p.m. ET from Aloha Stadium in Honolulu on January 30. FOX will handle the broadcast.  

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
January 15, 2011: Mike Smith looks chagrined in the Georgia Dome. He was all smiles in Hawaii. Good for him.

It’s about an eight hour flight from Honolulu to Tokyo. Touching down, there is a 19 hour time difference—Tokyo is ahead; at 5 p.m. in Hawaii, it’s noon the next day in Tokyo. 

Barring tape delay, this means the Japanese will be fed the Pro Bowl live on Monday at 2:00 p.m. In comparison, it’s almost like Americans getting the sumo championships live from Tokyo after lunch hour on a Monday. 

Good luck, Mr. Goodell.  

For the 2011 version of the Pro Bowl, there will be nine lucky Atlanta Falcons and eight New England Patriots. The rest of the breakdown for selections per team goes like this:

There are six Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs, five Ravens, Cowboys, Colts, Saints, Giants and Eagles. Four Dolphins, Raiders, Chargers, Titans and Bears made it.

Only four Pittsburgh Steelers—the team most prognosticators picked to win the Super Bowl. Hmm.

I’m one of those prognosticators. Keep your heads up black and yellow city, the Bengals and Seahawks are the only teams with zero players in the Pro Bowl this year.

Manning is a reserve this year behind Philip Rivers and ahead of Matt Cassell for the AFC. Tom Brady withdrew from the game. 

Attempting to play surgeon and dissect the defense, Eagles quarterback Michael “Doc” Vick will start the game and represent the NFC. He’ll have Roddy White, Calvin Johnson, Eagles teammate DeSean Jackson and Larry Fitzgerald to toss the ball to.

A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Feb. 12, 2006: Michael Vick plays in the Pro Bowl in Hawaii. He was also selected in 2002 and 2004.

On paper, Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu form a thrilling safety combination for the AFC.  Since Polamalu has a Super Bowl to attend to, New England’s Brandon Meriweather will take his spot; Reed has also been ruled out. 

Michael Griffin will take Reed’s place and rookie Eric Berry is an alternate. In the 2010 regular season, Griffin and his Tennessee Titans teammates twice faced two-thirds of the AFC’s starting Pro Bowl backfield. 

Running back Arian Foster and full back Vonta Leach—Houston Texans teammates—will start in Hawaii on Sunday. 

The Titans running back Chris Johnson will replace the injured Maurice “Pocket Hercules” Jones-Drew.

“Herc” is singing what I call The Twitter Blues by claiming he was joking about Jay Cutler. If he keeps singing, then maybe people will surprisingly let up off M.J.D. 

I wonder if the Japanese coaches on the AFC and NFC sidelines can sing?

A beautiful and unnamed Japanese singer—a surprise—will sing the national anthem before the Pro Bowl. Japanese announcers will announce the first half on FOX. 

I’m kidding, but here is something I’m not kidding about.

The Pro Bowl is without a confirmed home after the 2012 game. You, my readers, are hereby released to start the rumors about a Pro Bowl and a Super Bowl in Japan. 

Let's do it.

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