Hooray! It's Pro Bowl weekend

Four Packers players show great bravery by making the trip for Sunday's final pro football game of the season. PackerReport.com's Steve Lawrence weighs in on the big game and the news surrounding it.

The way a lot of the players treat the Pro Bowl, you'd think there was a chance of injury from stepping off the airplane.

Or, maybe they're afraid to get bit by a shark while walking along the beach.

Maybe they've watched too much "Lost" or "Gilligan's Island," and are afraid they'll disappear off the face of the earth and incur daily fines for missing minicamps.

Maybe the music of Don Ho makes the players break out in hives or bay at the moon.

Maybe they're allergic to the flowers in their lei, and are afraid they'll rupture their spleen while in a sneezing jag.

Maybe the price of gas — the $3.87 per gallon Hawaiians pay is the nation's most expensive — makes tooling across the island in their rented Escalade just too expensive.

Or maybe they just don't like pineapples or poi.

Either way, in an annual February tradition, players are staying away from the Pro Bowl like a vegetarian stays away from filet mignon and foie gras.

Brett Favre certainly didn't start this tradition, but he's perfected it. The Packers' quarterback was voted to his ninth Pro Bowl this year but, for the fifth consecutive time, isn't making the trip. He hasn't played in the game since helping the Packers win Super Bowl XXXI following the 1996 regular season.

Favre's track record stands in contrast to, say, Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. Like Favre, Manning has been elected to nine Pro Bowls. Maybe Favre knows something Manning doesn't know, but Manning only has backed out of the game once. Silly guy.

It's easy to see why 17 of the 90 players initially selected to the Pro Bowl have said thanks, but no thanks. It's a long season, the players are beat up and who wants to risk an injury by playing in a meaningless exhibition game?

The game's history suggests otherwise — the dislocated left elbow sustained by Drew Brees during the 2007 Pro Bowl is the most-significant on-the-field injury in memory — but, obviously, when you've got 240-pound linebackers slamming full-speed into 190-pound receivers or 210-pound quarterbacks, somebody can get hurt.

All of the no-shows make the Pro Bowl a less-than-appealing Sunday TV option, even in this football-mad nation. Still, for Packers fans, there are five reasons to watch: Donald Driver, Aaron Kampman, Al Harris and Chad Clifton. The quartet decided the honor is worth the risk and will play in the game. They'll be led by the Packers' coaching staff. Bob Sanders is the perfect defensive coordinator for the Pro Bowl. After all, the rules say you can't blitz.

Meanwhile, the game itself is under attack. Commissioner Roger Goodell the other day discussed the possibility of moving the Pro Bowl out of Hawaii and playing a Saturday-Sunday doubleheader at the site of the Super Bowl.

Gene Upshaw, the executive director of the NFL players association, shot down that idea, saying 80 percent of the players surveyed wanted the Pro Bowl kept in Hawaii. Upshaw added that moving the game to Super Bowl weekend likely would mean players who lost in the conference championship games probably wouldn't show up.

Imagine a Pro Bowl without players from the final four teams.

During his pre-Super Bowl press conference, Upshaw said: "We're trying to determine where it should be played, when it should be played and whether it should be played at all."

No Pro Bowl? Boy, I bet Favre would be heartbroken.

Steve Lawrence is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com. E-mail him at steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com

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