Sunday's Pro Bowl on NBC averaged a healthy 12.5 million viewers, 1.5 million more than baseball's All-Star Game. Which just goes to show that there's no accounting for taste.
Anyway, many old-school NFL types were disgusted by the level of play in the game, in which the players clearly had little interest in hitting one another.
When Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked about it late in his Wednesday news conference he hesitated, saying, "What I’m going to say wouldn’t be probably what I should say."
Then he added, "I’ll just let that one go.”
Then he added, "What it was and what it is now is a lot different.”
NBC analysts Rodney Harrison and Tony Dungy were a bit more expansive.
Harrison: “I watched the Pro Bowl, and I was very disappointed in the players. You understand from the players' standpoint that I made it through the season and maybe they don't want to get injured. I've played in a couple of Pro Bowls. If you don't want to play and you don't want to give a hundred percent, you should sit on the sidelines and allow someone else to get that opportunity. I was actually embarrassed by some of the players. When I played in the Pro Bowl, we played hard. We played for pride. It’s just ridiculous.”
Dungy: “I've coached in it several times as an assistant coach and head coach. I remember the first one I coached in 1984, and we had (Kenny) Easley and Howie Long, and there were no free passes in that game. The defense came to play, offensive guys knew it. It was like a regular game. I coached again in 1999, and Randy Moss, I think it was his second Pro Bowl, wanted to show the world that he was the best player in football. You just had that competitiveness. I didn't see that the other night, and I do hope that changes, because it can be a great game.”