10 Things We Learned About the Pro Bowl
2014 Pro Bowl
The 2014 Pro Bowl was certainly something that the game has not seen in its previous 53 games.
The game featured a host of different measures that tried to increase fan interest. With the unconferenced format, the best players in the game could play with players from other conferences.
Much like the NFL Draft and Fantasy Football formats, these teams were selected by general managers. Deion Sanders, also known as "Primetime", and Jerry Rice, both Hall of Famers and best to ever play at their positions, trash talked and drafted their best possible teams in a two-day draft.
There were also changes to the game that added, not subtracted, from previous years.
Two minute warnings were present in all four quarters, allowing the best quarterbacks in the game to excel in the biggest moments, the two minute drive.
Kickoffs were completely eliminated from the game, taking away the art of placekicking. Instead, college football overtime rules were in place, with the ball starting at the 25-yard line.
Finally, a shorter play clock made the game go quicker.
While most fans either gave up watching the game after the first quarter, or just refused to watch out of protest or to watch the Grammys instead, there were, in fact, some storylines that came out of this game. Some dealt with the results of the players on the field, and some were critiques of the new format.
In no particular order, these are my top 10 headlines that came out of the 2014 Pro Bowl.
10. Josh Gordon next to take top receiver throne
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon flashed at this Pro Bowl, making some spectacular catches and even showing versatility on a double reverse.
If Gordon were playing on another team that was at least "stable", Gordon would be a star that everyone talks about, but instead Gordon is stuck in the mess that is the Cleveland Browns.
9. Players played good enough to keep the game
This Pro Bowl was nothing compared to the offensive shootouts of previous years, but the willingness of players to play hard and even teammates competing against teammates is what Roger Goodell was looking for in the game.
8. Riverboat Ron still in mid-season form
Ron Rivera stayed true to himself, as "Riverboat Ron", going for the two-point conversion instead of playing for overtime, which NFL teams would truly do in regular season games.
7. T.J. Ward is fortunate Josh Gordon wasn't hurt
The highlight of the game was Cleveland Browns teammates Josh Gordon and T.J. Ward colliding when Gordon was running with the football. Ward flipped him over, but Gordon was fine.
Cleveland was fortunate that Gordon avoided the bad luck that normally comes with the Cleveland Browns since Paul Brown was fired by Art Modell.
6. The Fantasy Draft was a good concept
Although the product was a bit over-publicized with two days of drafting and players seemingly disinterested, there--I think--is nothing else better that could have been done to increase interest in this game.
5. The Offensive Line play was downright sad
NFL general managers were fortunate that any of their franchise quarterbacks were not hurt as the defensive lines got to the quarterback multiple times and laid some big hits.
No wonder Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers did not make the trip to Honolulu.
4. The Pro Bowl is still relevant to TV audiences
The Pro Bowl, despite being mocked in previous years by fans and media pundits, still out-rated the NHL stadium series and the NBA doubleheader featuring a Finals rematch between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs, as well as a matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and the New York Knicks.
The NFL left no doubt that it is the "king" of sports on TV.
3. The defense dominated the offenses
Whether it was the offenses having zero continuity or the quarterback play was spotty, defense was the name of the game in an offensively-dominated league.
The draft may have in fact hurt the offenses as few players played with their teammates or players in their own conferences.
2. The Pro Bowl is a game for the fans
During the game a fan went onto the field and chest bumped Baltimore Ravens guard Marshall Yanda.
In a normal game, the fan would be arrested and pepper sprayed to submission. Instead, the show went on like nothing happened.
1. This was Tony Gonzalez's final game in an NFL uniform
If this was the final game of Tony Gonzalez's great career, what a career it has been.
Gonzalez will go down as one of the greatest tight ends to ever play the game and his ticket to Canton will not be long down the road.