At this point when we think of the NFL’s postseason All-Star Game, aka the Pro Bowl, there’s only one way to look at the game: it is what it is. There is no perfect way to have a fun, but competitive All-Star Game in a sport where freak athletes crash into each other at full speed. The NFL has tried to improve the way the game appeals to fans with snazzy uniforms from Nike, turning the game into fantasy football and tweaking the rules, all with mixed results. When you turn on your favorite morning sports show, you’ll find out that Matthew Stafford won the Offensive MVP and J.J. Watt took home the award for the defense, there were a few moments we wanted to showcase from this year’s Pro Bowl.
J.J. Watt Goes Off
While this game notoriously highlights offense, it was Watt who stole show in the desert. As the first-half came to an end, Watt put Team Carter on his back by intercepting a Stafford pass near the end zone to stop a huge Team Irvin drive, and gave them the 20-19 lead at halftime. On his next play on defense, Watt recovered a fumble for the first play of the third quarter. Not a bad sequence. Watt was only credited with one tackle in a game that didn’t feature much tackling, but he also added four pass deflections to go with his interception and fumble recovery.
Despite his MVP performance, Watt’s best performance came with his being mic’d up in the first quarter, where you can hear him tell his teammates, “It ain’t Patty Cake! Let’s go, turn it up a little bit!”
Narrowed Goal Posts
Adam Vinatieri statistically had the best season of his 19-year kicking career. The Indianapolis Colts kicker made the Pro Bowl on his perfection of 50 extra-point attempts and going 30-for-31 on field-goal attempts this year. Throw all those numbers out of the window. All of them. Here’s some new numbers for you: Vinateri missed two extra points and a field goal in the Pro Bowl. Why the rough numbers? Well, for Pro Bowl the NFL moved the goal posts from 18 feet wide to 14 feet wide, and also made extra-point attempts from 35 yards out. Clearly, the changes made a big difference. With many fans thinking that kicking is too easy of a job, the NFL may have just found its solution. Making these rule changes the norm would make the kicker’s job much more difficult and could also force team’s to go for it and fourth down more often.
No Love Lost For Golden Tate
In his first season with the Detroit Lions, Golden Tate saw his stats blow up. Playing the role of Detroit’s No. 2 option, but the top dog for much of the season with Calvin Johnson missing time due to injuries, Tate had career best in targets (142), receptions (99), and yards (1,331). He may be making plays in a new jersey, but there is no love lost for Tate from his former Seattle Seahawk teammates Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas. ESPN’s Lisa Salters tried getting more controversy-filled answers from Sherman, when Tate went off for a 60-yard reception and all hell broke loose.
Odell Beckham Jr. Can Do Anything
Odell Beckham Jr. hauled in five catches for 89 yards in his first Pro Bowl of many as a rookie. After what Beckham showed us in only 12 games, we expect at least those kind of numbers from him. What we might as well expect from him too, is a ridiculous pre-game show. Before the Pro Bowl, Beckham reminded us that none of us are as athletic as he is and we never will be. He dominated as a wide receiver this season and probably could have as a defensive back, running back, or quarterback. Well, apparently he could have as a kicker, too. Even with the narrowed goal posts, OBJ nailed a 46-yard field goal and we probably shouldn’t have even been surprised.
Beckham is the kind of player that reminds us why we still have a Pro Bowl. I’d pay to watch this guy play a game of flag football; he’s that exciting and talented. The Pro Bowl will never be perfect and that’s okay. The NFL is still holding onto its All-Star Game and is doing its best to make the proper changes. Some might even need to be considered for the regular season. Remember, as far as the Pro Bowl goes, it is what it is and there’s still moments that make us smile and shake our head, which is the real purpose of any All-Star Game.
Dalton Johnson played baseball at a college you’ve probably never heard, but probably should. He graduated from Armstrong State University with a B.A. in English and concentration in journalism. Now a freelance sports journalist out of Petaluma, CA, in the Bay Area, even his keyboard talks too fast. Fittingly, all of his published work and blog posts can be seen at Life’s A Ball, daltonjsports.com.