The Green Bay Packers’ star linebacker Clay Matthews will not be playing in this year’s Pro Bowl. Matthews was one of just two Packers players who were selected to start in the game, along with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has also elected not to play due to injury.
Though no official announcement has come from Matthews or the Packers, it was announced that Dallas Cowboys linebacker Anthony Spencer will take Matthews’ place. Matthews missed time this season with a hamstring injury that has plagued him for nearly his entire career.
Matthews and Rodgers’ absence highlights the silliness of the Pro Bowl. Instead of being the best players from each conference, it usually ends up being mostly alternates who actually take the field. It’s not as much fun for the fans, but who can blame the players? Their bodies take a beating all year long, and no one wants to risk an injury for a meaningless game.
14 players have already pulled out due to injury, in addition to the 15 players who will not attend because they will be playing in the Super Bowl. The Baltimore Ravens have six players who were selected, and the San Francisco 49ers led the league with nine players. So 29 of the top players in the NFL will not be on the field for the Pro Bowl – it’s tough for the league to try to continue to sell this backyard game as the best of the best.
For the Packers, center Jeff Saturday – who was benched late in the season – will still attend, and right guard Josh Sitton will step in for San Francisco’s Mike Iupati.