What to Know : The Pro Bowl

football, games, bowl, The playoffs have ended and the Super Bowl is still a week away. Which means that on Sunday around noon, a general sense of panic will descend upon football-lovers everywhere.

What do we do?!?!

It’s a tough time in our lives.

But luckily, we know that the Super Bowl is right around the corner, and until then, we have a football-like entity to fill the void: the Pro Bowl.

Now, if you ask me, it’s the perfect buffer between life with football and life without it. The Pro Bowl eases us into understanding that we’re going to have to live without football in our lives every Sunday for the next six months (insert weeping here). It’s not a competitive game, but it’s not not a game either, so it’s kind of a slow transition into the offseason.

I’ll take whatever I can get.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the wonder that is the Pro Bowl, here are 5 things to know in advance:

1. It’s kind of a contradiction.

This is an all-star game, an honor bestowed upon players by colleagues, coaches, and fans, but it’s played like a preseason game. And often times…worse than a preseason game. The effort level over the past few years has really been wince-worthy – last year’s Pro Bowl being particularly ugly.  It’s this type of thing that has drawn the ire of fans and league officials alike, and the reason why the fate of the Pro Bowl is in jeopardy.

I can understand why players don’t give 100% after a grueling season when they are basically on vacation in Hawaii with their families and don’t want to risk getting injured. That makes sense. However, there still needs to be some measure of personal pride that makes you want to show up on the field for any game, especially one that should be an honor to play in.

Luckily, Peyton is back for his millionth Pro Bowl this year, and he wasted no time whipping this year’s crew into shape, setting high expectations, as always. So maybe this year, when the players know the future of the Pro Bowl is in their hands, it’ll be different.

2. You’re going to see a lot of screen passes. 

Like, a LOT of screen passes. It’s pretty much the only offensive play call.

3. You get to see Mike McCarthy and John Fox in Hawaiian shirts.

Likely two of the last guys (Bill Belichick might be the last guy) who would ever consider donning a Hawaiian shirt of their own volition. I don’t know why, but seeing an entire NFL staff in Hawaiian shirts never fails to bring me joy. It’s just so funny. This year’s NFC team will be led by the Packers’ Mike McCarthy and his staff while the AFC honors went to the Broncos’ crew. Fans can expect McCarthy to throw a few trick plays into the mix and Fox to not.

4. It might be an historic event.

As mentioned above, due to the fact that the level of play has been just shy of abominable over the past few years, the NFL is threatening to cancel the Pro Bowl if this year’s showing isn’t markedly better. And really, that would be a lose-lose for everyone. Fans would miss out on one more week with their favorite players, and, most of all, players would miss out on learning from the best in the biz and celebrating a huge accomplishment with their friends and families.

I understand that people get their panties in a bunch because the Pro Bowl isn’t a knock-down drag-out fight to the finish. But can’t we all take it down a notch? I love the Pro Bowl because of the atmosphere. It’s nice to see players get to relax a little bit and have fun on the field. And it’s one more week of football! What so bad about that?!

5. It’s your best bet.

Really, what else are you going to watch on Sunday night at 7pm if not the Pro Bowl? Let me give you your entertainment options: You’ve got 60 Minutes on CBS, America’s Funniest Home Videos on ABC, and Bob’s Burgers on FOX. Come on, now. Even if you don’t like football, the Pro Bowl might be the best option if only for the screen shots of Hawaii. It’s January, people. We’re desperate for this type of warm-weather programming.

Do you guys usually watch the Pro Bowl? Will you be watching this year? Why or why not?

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