The Pro Bowl is like the friend with whom you always make plans but never follow through.
Sure, you’d like to hang out with them, but when it comes down to it, you prefer to sit on your couch and watch reruns of Game of Thrones. This is the best analogy I can draw, since I’ve never been invited to the Pro Bowl. At least not yet. But since I’m an able-bodied young man, there’s a chance I’ll be invited the near future. The NFL may have to start inviting fans like me, because no current players seem to want to play in the league’s annual All-Star game.
The number of players selected to the 2016 Pro Bowl who won’t make the trip to Hawaii to play in the game stands at 43. Fourteen have a legit excuse—they are members of the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers, and they’re busy preparing for Super Bowl 50.
But the other 29? Not so much. Sure, some are dealing with injuries. Ben Roethlisberger and J. J. Watt fit in that group. But that still leaves roughly a couple of dozen players who could play in the Pro Bowl but just flat out don’t want to. All seven members of the New England Patriots who were selected have opted out. Four quarterbacks who aren’t playing in Super Bowl 50 have opted out. Here’s the full list of players selected who won’t participate in tonight’s game:
courtesy of Wikipedia
Do I blame these guys? Not for a second.
Probably the last thing any NFL player wants to do after punishing his body for 6 months straight is to play in a totally meaningless game. But the refusal of many star players to participate has greatly affected the prestige of the Pro Bowl. Tom Brady hasn’t played in it since 2005! When the game’s top players don’t want to participate, others are forced to fill in—although you could argue that some don’t deserve it.
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Do you think Latavius Murray is a true Pro Bowl player? How about Jameis Winston? Or Elvis Dumervil, who only had six sacks this season? They’re good players, but were their performances in 2015 Pro Bowl-worthy. Doubtful.
In the MLB and NBA All-Star games, nearly every player who is selected participates, and several very good players get left out. That adds legitimacy to both the game itself and to the players’ distinction as All-Stars. Right now, the Pro Bowl is missing both.