Pro Bowlers fly the coop
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck thinks Pro Bowl week in Hawaii could use some changes.
Hasselbeck: Hawaii is motivation
Matt Hasselbeck isn't a complainer. So when he voices displeasure, you listen.
The Seahawks' Pro Bowl quarterback is in line with his fellow NFL stars in the belief that the all-star game should remain in Hawaii.
"Honolulu is a great spot. It's motivation to want to come out here. The fact that people from New York have to fly a long way, now they know how I feel in Seattle," said Hasselbeck, after Sunday's 42-30 NFC victory at Aloha Stadium. "I don't want to change where we have it."
..."I think there's some things that should change."
Like most NFL players, Hasselbeck is generous with his time when it comes to hospital visits and such. But he said he thinks some players forego the postseason all-star game because they don't want to deal with public appearances and other commitments the league foists on Pro Bowl players during the week here.
Hasselbeck said the thing most players want to do at the end of the season is simply relax.
"I'd make it more (player) family friendly. Sort of make a Tom Brady or Brett Favre rule," Hasselbeck said, referring to the two big-name quarterbacks who opted out this year, citing injuries.
All of the stars might have all the free time they want after 2009. Next year's is the final Pro Bowl in the NFL's current contract with the state of Hawaii.
Aloha Stadium could be a snag in negotiations for a new deal. The facility's accommodations are antiquated and two sources said they're not up to NFL standards. Translation: No luxury boxes might mean the 30th Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium will be the last.
There are also rumblings of the game being abolished, period. The argument from some corners is that it is dangerous and irrelevant.
Injury is always a possibility in any game where grown men collide at full speed, but everyone seemed to come out of Sunday's game OK -- even Larry Fitzgerald, who got knocked nearly all the way back to Phoenix by Asante Samuel.
Coaches Mike McCarthy and Norv Turner both seemed to understand the spirit of the game through their play calling.
"Not only did the players have fun, I was also impressed with how professional they were," Turner said. "You see how a Peyton Manning takes it seriously and wants to perform well. They all want to make an impression."
As for the Pro Bowl's relevance, it is as meaningful as any other major sport's all-star game, if only because it allows the great stars to share the same playing field. Such games also serve to showcase new stars -- like Adrian Peterson -- and provide an opportunity to appreciate old ones, like the six new Hall of Fame inductees.
Following in the wake of the Super Bowl, the ratings for the Pro Bowl never look good. But FOX actually won the 7 p.m. Eastern-time battle in the 18-49 demographic; the Pro Bowl's 3.3 rating for that group beat ABC's "America's Funniest Home Videos" (3.0) and CBS' "60 Minutes" (2.5).
The Star-Bulletin's Billy Hull contributed to this report.