Our Location

Cypress Hall at The Cypress                                                                                                       
20 Lady Slipper Lane
Hilton Head Plantation
Hilton Head Island, SC 29926

Location Information

Contact Us

843-290-0500 (cell)

Sunday Services

Sunday Services at 9:30 AM
Forum Discussion to follow

« The Trump Code | Main | GrandCHILDREN of God »

The NFL as a Perpetual Pro-Bowl

by John M. Miller

 Years ago the National Football League Pro Bowl was always held a week or two after the Super Bowl. Thus players in the Super Bowl could also play in the Pro Bowl. Formerly, the Pro Bowl featured the all stars of the NFL. Some of them were on the two Super bowl teams, which is why the teams get into the Super Bowl in the first place.

     As time went on, and salaries went up, it was decided it was foolish to risk any players getting seriously hurt in the Pro Bowl. The NFL also concluded no one on either Super Bowl team would play.

     Therefore the Pro Bowl has turned into a game unlike anything observed on a Sunday afternoon in the regular season or in the playoffs. Essentially it is heavy-handed two-handed touch. If the refs see that a runner or receiver has been sufficiently grabbed by a defender, the play is whistled dead. There are some tackles, to be sure, but not many, and they are not fierce. There also are few penalties.

     Until last Sunday, I had not watched a Pro Bowl for eight or ten years. By the time I stopped watching, it all seemed so silly. The only reason I watched this year is because the PGA tournament was a foregone conclusion, and there were no college basketball games that piqued, peeked, or peaked my interest.

     I noticed only one player who was injured in the 2019 Pro Bowl, and it appeared he was not badly hurt. All the players on both sides of the ball seemed genuinely to enjoy the game, despite the steady rain which pelted them in Orlando. However, by the greatly altered rules of the Pro Bowl, they deliberately refrained from pelting one another very much at all.

     Years ago the NFL made a conscious shift in the Pro Bowl. No longer would the biggest and best be encouraged or even allowed unabashedly to bash others of the biggest and best. Now they play for fun, plus a mere average of $50K or so per player.

          I gave up the Pro Bowl because it did not look like football. Having now watched it again, it seemed like a captivating and much less lethal sport. No one would get chronic brain-scrambling disorder if football rules were like Pro Bowl rules. There would be almost no knee ligaments transformed into small frayed strands of crushed cartilage. No Joe Theissmanns would ever have a compound femur fracture before an aghast audience of millions on Monday Night Football (who will ever forget it?).

     On Super Bowl Sunday, 2019, I will turn eighty. I decided that chronological milestone may be why, for once, I actually enjoyed watching the Pro Bowl. No longer is my pleasure in observing American football determined by whatever level of male hormones still manage to slog through my elderly carcass. Male hormones certainly are surging elsewhere in other males, but not in this semi-ancient codger.

     It is not surprising that a hefty majority of the mainly hefty cadre of football fans are of the human male persuasion. Those who can no longer play well and those who could never play well nevertheless get a hormonal buzz from watching those who are really good at knocking one another flat on genuine or artificial turf. The spectators receive a vicarious rush from seeing hormonal giants smashing other hormonal giants. Culturally this is all very peculiar, but historically it is also very real.

     Rugby is a rough game played with no pads. Because of its rules, there are far fewer injuries than in American football. Worldwide football, otherwise known by Americans as soccer, results in even fewer injuries, also because of its rules.

     The Pro Bowl has always been a relatively ragged football contest. None of the contestants is very diligent about the outcome of the game. Besides, they are from many different teams, and they have little time to practice together as a team, which they really are not, anyway.

     However, what if American football at all levels transformed itself into Pro Bowl football? I am serious. What if the rules were tightened up from Pro Bowl football, but they produced a categorically different kind of game from what we now know? What if the essential purpose was not to flatten opponents? Would the world as we have known and admired it come to an end?

     It is becoming evident that more and more Homo sapiens males are dying early or are suffering from early dementia because of frequent head injuries. More and more middle-aged and older men are walking around in constant pain because their bodies were subjected to too many unnatural blows. In order to enjoy the game as it was played for many decades, is it necessary that those injuries continue? Or are these merely the irrational musings of an admitted bleeding-heart liberal?

     The NFL and college football have changed many of their rules in the last few years to prevent the kinds of head or other injuries which unnecessarily pluck players early out of the player pool. Nonetheless, The Game is still too rough for the good of the players.

     If American football does not become less violent, it will go the way of the dodo bird and the passenger pigeon. Carefully considered Pro Bowl football may be the prototype of the way to avoid the extinction of a quintessentially American sport.


 The Rev. John M. Miller is a geezer minister and sports fan still preaching most Sundays on Hilton Head Island, SC. Other of his writings and his sermons may be viewed at www.chapelwithoutwallshhi.org.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend