I spoke too soon.
Turns out, Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett dislocated his toe while participating in the NFL’s first-ever Pro Bowl Games at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada over the weekend.
But I didn’t mean the physical side when I mentioned “hurt” in my headline. No, I was talking more along the lines of emotionally.
These games went off without a hitch—well, except for the hitch in Garrett’s giddy-up—and nobody seemed to care, not in a positive sense or a negative sense.
Actually, I’m not so sure anyone even noticed. In fact, other than just happening to witness a touchdown pass from Ravens quarterback Huntley to someone I did not recognize while I was waiting for lunch at the Fireside Inn in Robinson Township (a suburb right outside of Pittsburgh) on Saturday (I think it was Saturday), I wouldn’t have seen one second of these games.
From the research I literally just did before writing this article, I know that these games consisted of multiple flag football contests between the AFC and NFC. The NFC won the finale, which I assume was the deciding matchup, and captured its first-ever Pro Bowl since back in the days when the NFL actually made its players wear pads and pretend to tackle.
There were other games, too, including an obstacle course that Garrett was trying to navigate when he dislocated his toe.
I’m sure there were also games involving throwing, catching and kicking, but I didn’t notice.
I do know from checking in on social media over the weekend from time to time that Peyton Manning had something to do with these Pro Bowl Games. Was he a coach? Was he a participant? Did he and Eli Manning host some sort of simultaneous broadcast while some other network aired the game with “serious” professionals?
Beats me, but the NFL probably got what it wanted out of the weekend: A presence on social media. It stayed in the news during a time without real football on the calendar. (If only there was an actual game the following week the league could have hyped up its fans for.)
Hey, if the NFL feels that it must keep the Pro Bowl intact in some capacity to continue to generate excitement in its product, that’s fine. If players—some of whom are legitimate Pro Bowl-level players and not just Tyler Huntley by default—want to show up and participate in these games, that’s also okay.
Just as long as the league recognizes something very important: America used to be a country that tuned into shows like The Battle of the Network Stars. This annual showcase saw actors like Tootie from the Facts of Life race Chrissy from Three’s Company in an obstacle course, a “battle” that may or may not have ended with one of these women suffering a dislocated toe.
In other words, we’ve mostly evolved from watching spectacles that don’t have truly high stakes (well, except for The Bachelor). Therefore, no matter what the NFL or any other sports league tries to do to make its annual all-star game more exciting, it’s just not going to be.
In fact, it might be more exciting to bring back Tootie and Chrissy and watch them battle it out one more time.