Is the Pro Bowl Extinct?

Written by on February 4, 2019

On the TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS February 4, 2019, #730 Up Next… Is the Pro Bowl Extinct?After further review… 

The emails poured-in (pun intended) after the NFL’s Pro Bowl was played in a downpour in St. Petersburg, Florida on Sunday, January 27, 2019. Most were of a negative nature. My history of the Pro Bowl is positive and dates back to 1961 played following the 1960 NFL season which was my first year as an NFL official. The game was played in the Los Angeles Coliseum as a Los Angeles Times charity, which supported the Los Angeles Times Boys Club, on which, coincidentally, I served as a member. This, of course, was before the AFL and NFL merged in the late 1960s.

 I was fortunate to be assigned to 6 Pro Bowls – all held in that Coliseum. It was an honor for anyone – player or official – to be so selected. Each official was paid $100! Since it was a charity, we were happy to accept that; and living in Southern California, it was a short drive for me. The game was played and officiated with NFL intensity, but fun for all was paramount.
As officials, we got to know the players pretty well. Maxie Baughan, a Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Rams linebacker played in 9 Pro Bowls. During one of those games, an offensive receiver appeared to “push-off” Baughan as the ball was approaching – “offensive pass interference.” As the field judge (downfield 20-25 yards) that was my call. I didn’t feel that the push-off warranted a “flag,” so I didn’t “throw,” i.e., call a foul. Maxie, who I knew personally off the field, screamed at me for not calling it. I said, “Maxie, come-on, relax. It’s only the Pro Bowl!” Maxie, yelled back, “Yeah, but it’s $300 difference between winning ($800) and losing ($500) and that’s important to me.”

Indeed, today’s Pro Bowls are vastly different. While some players still appreciate the honor of being selected, most play only because they feel an obligation. The money is vastly different as are the players’ salaries of today. In the 2019 Pro Bowl, each player on the winning AFC team received $70,000 and each player on the NFC losing team received $35,000. While that money is not “chump change'” players appear to avoid the game today. The rules have changed to make the game less physical. It’s now like “two-handed-touch” as we used to call it on the playground – it doesn’t have the intensity of a real NFL game.

Will you log-in your opinion about the Pro Bowl of today?

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