Holler: Pro Bowl farce has further evidence

If the game-day product wasn't proof enough how little effort goes into the Pro Bowl, then Trent Williams gave further proof when he took a champagne bottle to the head at 1:30 a.m. Friday morning, setting the table for Matt Kalil to make the trip to Hawaii.

Friday we got a glimpse into just how tame the competition is at the Pro Bowl.

Despite the Vikings holding their breath that Adrian Peterson won't get hurt Sunday, there isn't a huge risk of players getting injured because there really aren't the bad intentions that are inherent to regular season and postseason games. In Hawaii, players are out for showin', not for throwin' down.

The announcement Friday that Washington Redskins left tackle Trent Williams was being scratched from the game and replaced by Matt Kalil gave a rare peek behind the curtain of the NFL's true intent of the Pro Bowl. The fact that Williams' skull was in the vicinity of a champagne bottle and his body in the vicinity of a Taser in the early hours of Friday morning in Hawaii let you know that clearly the work-to-play ratio is a little different than in "real" games.

The fact that the incident happened at 1:30 a.m. (mama always said nothing good happens after midnight) on Friday morning spoke to a couple of things. First, the Thursday practice wasn't overly exhausting. Second, Friday's practice was going to be tame by comparison.

For players like Peterson and Jared Allen, who is going to have surgery after (repeat: after) the Pro Bowl game, Kalil's addition to the Pro Bowl roster cements the point that the Pro Bowl itself is an exhibition beyond the 12-11 finals in the NHL All-Star Game and the 152-148 final in the NBA All-Star Quasi-Classic.

Presumably, Kalil was called off the couch some time after an event the suspicious media will refer to as "Bottlegate" took place. Thanks to the dubious nature of the Pro Bowl, the teams carry just three offensive tackles and three guards. Six guys to play four spots for 60 minutes. Take a second to consider that.

Russell Wilson will likely be doing to dirty work, when much like NBA games, the final 10 minutes is played serious, his blind side is going to be protected by a fellow rookie who one can only hope hasn't gone into the classic "post-season vegetative state" that accompanies players who took legalized beatings involving men with injurious intent. When the game is on the line, Kalil will likely be protecting the blindside of Wilson or Eli Manning – none of the three NFC QBs originally selected for the game will play – and whoever is under center will be expecting that a helmet won't be crowning in the area of his spine.

It won't happen. The Pro Bowl is an honor. Back in the day when players had offseason jobs, the difference between the winner's share and the loser's cut was significant. Every NFC player of that vintage hoped the Raiders would make the Super Bowl so they wouldn't have to face them with $5,000 on the line. That's a 10:30 Bryant McKinnie bar tab.

The Pro Bowl is a pay cut for just about everyone involved. If Roger Goodell is serious about making the game meaningful, he's fighting a losing battle. The fly in Goodel's ointment may well be Peterson in the first half. A.D. doesn't go half-speed. That may be Kalil's wake-up call in the fourth quarter. All it takes is one guy to make it a WWE event and MMA pay-per-view. Peterson may be that guy. As a result, Kalil better be ready when the game is on the line. So should Wilson.


  • An ESPN draft guru whose coiffeur has been the envy of Robert Goulet for decades has updated his grades on the 2012 draft. Mel Kiper Jr. gave the Class of 2012 a very respectable B+ grade post-draft and sight unseen. After a year of playing in the NFL, he upped the Vikings' grade to an A-. He raved about Kalil and Harrison Smith, which he did in his post-draft assessment, but felt stronger about Josh Robinson and called Blair Walsh one of the coveted S.O.D.s – Steals Of the Draft. Ah, the sweet smell of Kiper love.

    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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