John Elway sent me to the Pro Bowl. Guess who is my favorite all-time NFL player.
The Pro Bowl generally is a laid-back affair, past and future, played for most of its years at Aloha Stadium. It features special rules such as no blitzing, no zone defenses, no trick offensive formations.
The 2020 Pro Bowl is 12 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 26 at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium for the fourth year in the row after one season back at my old Aloha Stadium stomping grounds. ESPN and ABC broadcast the game. Flo Rida does the pre-game concert. Post-game features a fireworks show
Games recently also had been played in places like Detroit — don’t drink the water — and Phoenix, a desert where they have no water.
Lamar Jackson had a season to remember. It’s one that will send him to Orlando for the big game, just not the big game he had in mind when the season started.
The Baltimore Ravens‘ second-year phenom is among the starters. Jackson leads a contingent of 12 Pro Bowl selections for the Ravens, whose representatives in the January classic include running back Mark Ingram and free safety Earl Thomas.
he Kansas City Chiefs have six selections for the second year in a row, while the Pittsburgh Steelersand Philadelphia Eagles have five apiece. Of course, the Chiefs will be in absentia since they have another game to attend to in 10 days or so.
The team who scores a touchdown has the option to continue its offense this year.
If the team who scores decides to retain the ball, they’ll need to convert a 4th and 15 from their own 25-yard line to earn a new set of downs. If it fails, the opposing team will take over from that same spot with excellent field position to score themselves
For full team rosters and additional information, visit here.
Once again, the NFL will head into this spring with a decision to make on the Pro Bowl’s location, as its year-to-year option is set to expire in Orlando. And now, the idea of moving the event to Las Vegas or Los Angeles is being considered, according to league officials.
“It’s been a great four years,” Peter O’Reilly, executive vice president of NFL events and club business development, told CNBC. “From our perspective, it’s looking at what are the other options.”
With the Las Vegas Raiders officially relocating to their new home, the $1.9 billion Allegiant Stadium, which is expected to be ready for the 2020 season, moving the Pro Bowl to Las Vegas, at least for one year, appears to be gaining momentum.
The NFL moved the Pro Bowl from Aloha Stadium in Hawaii, which hosted the game since 1980, after the 2013 season. It made a quick stop in Arizona in 2015, but returned to Hawaii the following season before settling in Orlando in 2017.
Back to MY GAME
Formats have changed over the years. Four years ago it was Team Rice v. Team Irvin as NFL Hall-of-Famers Jerry Rice and Micheal Irvin “choose” their teams from the pool of all-pro players. I must confess their rosters and the way the players were divided made no sense, so the game once again has reverted to the traditional NFC vs. AFC mash-up.
The games are low-key for a while, that is until the second half when the all-star competitive juices — not, those kind, lighten up — kick in and some rules are better honored in their breach than their observance.
But the Pro Bowl is an afterthought as yet, after the Super Bowl and most everybody has gone football home.
ESPN, a few years ago, stage a “You Pick the Play — Quarterback Challenge” contest. For four Sundays in November, viewers of the ESPN game of the week could call a 1-900 number at $5.95 a pop, limited to once call per quarter with the objective of picking the next play a team would run.
ESPN divided the field into sections by yard markers and hash-marks. Plays were assigned point totals. A running play to the right side was one point. A 10-yard pass to the left side was three points. A completed pass of more than 25 yards between the hash marks of the middle of the field had the highest point total. It was five freakin’ points.
Under the very fine print section of the rules, ESPN deigned to disclose a toll-free number would be provided if requested. I believe there was some kind of law requiring this. I requested, baby, and I got to work. I studied the offenses of the teams that would appear in the four contest games.
Elway’s Broncos de Denver was one of the teams, and even played in two of the games. It soon became apparent Elway was the guy who was going to punch my golden ticket to Diamond-head. This was the one guy with the arm, desire and ability to max out my point total with long bombs down the middle of the field. I figured he was good for at least one per quarter of any game he played.
So it went and so I went. I missed one the four games for some reason. Guess I had a life beyond football then, can’t remember. But basically, I won every quarter of the three games — two by Elway — I played. It all came down to that toll-free number and Elway’s brain. People didn’t much hanker to the $5.95 per call price tag. As an Elway expert, I rode his arm all the way to paradise.
I ended up with eight Sony mini-TV’s, a sports video collection, and an all-expenses paid trip to Hawaii, and cash, for the Pro Bowl.
The trip was awesome, of course. I hung out with Japanese girl tourists who gave me strange tasting candy and a…well, PG-rated here. I sat behind the Miami Dolphins offensive line in the stands, amazing them with my play calling expertise as I shouted out each play before it happened. Morten Andersen, a favorite of mine, one of the top kickers in all-time accuracy, shanked the game-winning field goal. A Dolphin turned around, laughed and advised how he saw Morton partying his arse away the night before at Waikiki.
Ah, good times. ESPN discontinued the contest after that. But Elway earned a fan for life.
Which brings us to that anti-climactic encounter next week. What do they call it? Super Bowl, that’s it. The refs blind-boxed the NFC Championship game, and as a Saints fan, i’m boycotting it anyway. Don’t bother me with that stinking score. I’ll be watching a replay of this year’s Pro Bowl in its wake.