More to the point: does the Pro Bowl mean anything at all? During my Air Force-associated travels, I lived in Hawaii twice, for a total of six years. I’ve been to several Pro Bowls during my time there. There were events for days before hand such as youth camps, “meet and greets,” and sometimes there were practices in multiple areas on Oahu. The stadium, Aloha Stadium, is not an NFL-caliber stadium. It lacks the posh sky boxes and barely has enough room for out of town media to come in for the event. The uninitiated ticket-buyers might blunder in their seat choice and end up cooking in the sun during the game. For the locals, the Pro Bowl wasn’t about seeing the game. It was about getting a close up of their favorite players from the main land. You have no idea how disconnected many people in the state of Hawaii feel from people who live in the contiguous states. First, there is the time difference – at least two hours and an ocean away. Second, there is a huge cultural difference, one that really stood out to me during the Manti Te’o saga over the last week or so.
This year, the Steelers only had two players voted in – Heath Miller and Maurkice Pouncy. Both players are very deserving of recognition as exception players in the NFL. To me that is all the Pro Bowl means now. It’s an honorary title, an accolade. I checked the roster and didn’t see any Steeler additions, but I’m not sure if the final roster is posted. We could see some other lineman or defensive players added. Yet, we all know the game doesn’t mean anything. If it did, then so many Patriots wouldn’t be
sulking, oh I mean injured, and not in the game. I just looked at the roster and every Patriot who was voted on (Brady, Welker, Wilfork, Mayo, Mankins, and Gronkowski) is out due to injury. In my opinion, Gronk and Mankins are the only ones with the excuse. It’s another thing that just doesn’t add to my ever-growing poor opinion of that franchise. I would hope the Steelers players wouldn’t do that, but these days, it is hard to justify going to the game. The game last year just seemed like an Arena-league game with lots of scoring and no defense. No one wants to get hurt in the Pro Bowl. Unless you make it mean something in the scheme of the regular season, then participation will continue to fall off.
So, does the Pro Bowl mean anything for the Steelers this year? In my opinion, it doesn’t. With the rumored “shake-up” and the salary cap problems, the Pro Bowl is yet another muted blip on the franchise’s radar screen. I hope Pouncey has a great experience and finds it useful (and a semi-paid for vacation). I might tune in for a little bit to see places I recognize or point out the seats we normally tried to get (totally in the shade for the whole game!). Otherwise, it doesn’t mean a thing.