You can say one thing about the 2021 NFL Pro Bowl, the tackling may have improved.
I kid, of course. The tackling was non-existent because the ongoing Coronarivus pandemic put a halt to this year’s festivities, save for some virtual Madden video game tournament that I simply refused to research.
Did you miss the Pro Bowl, this year? Yeah, me neither. I don’t think I’ve paid attention to the Pro Bowl since the year before the Steelers finally won their one for the thumb. I’m talking about the 2005 Pro Bowl, when Hines Ward, just two weeks removed from his team going down in flames at the hands of the Patriots in the AFC title game at Heinz Field, did the hula dance after scoring a touchdown.
After that, the Steelers started going to and winning Super Bowls at such a dizzying pace, it made me realize the level of football that truly matters.
And when it comes to the Pro Bowl, that level ain't where it’s at.
The NFL and its players soon began to realize that, too. For the NFL’s part, it decided that tackling was mostly optional around the time head injuries and CTE almost ruined the game. As for the players, most of the top stars decided a while ago that attending the game was also optional, and they more often than not have elected to opt-out. I can’t say as I blame them, either.
I mean, why put your health and career at risk by playing in an exhibition game conducted by a league that doesn’t value its players enough to even give them fully guaranteed contracts?
It’s a dog-eat-dog world, especially in the world of the National Football League. As for the product on the field? I mean, if you’re not going to tackle, what’s the point of even playing? It’s bad enough the product is watered down with a bunch of alternatives—third removed—taking the places of the men who were actually voted in. But when you replace tackling with cuddly bear hugs, it’s time to pull the plug on the event.
I would feel sorry for Hawaii, the place where the game was played for many years, if not for the fact that the NFL took it away from our 50th state a long, long time ago. If you’re not going to tackle, if the players don’t care and if you remove the event from the one state that cherishes it, really, what’s the point?
There are few things I’d like to see remain permanent once this pandemic finally does leave us, but one of those things I’d love to see stay in place is a world free of the NFL Pro Bowl.
Nobody will miss it. Seriously, nobody.