The show was great; maybe it'll come back


POSTED: Monday, February 09, 2009

OK, first the game.

Typical Pro Bowl. Snoozingly slow pace to start, then the offenses pick up as the best players in the world begin to click and the fellas start to realize there's a $22,500 difference between winning and losing.

Larry Fitzgerald's hard enough to stop when the defenders are trying to knock his head off. This game's rules and spirit amplify his athleticism, breakaway speed, route-running, and most of all, his size. It's no surprise he took over the game.

Now, the news.

The NFL has put a new offer on the table to bring the game back to Hawaii, and hopes to hear back from the Hawaii Tourism Authority soon.

“;The league has always stated it's wanted to be back,”; NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said. “;It's just a matter of time. Everyone from players to execs wants it here.”;

But not next year. Was it any coincidence that right after the attendance of near-capacity was announced, the next thing to hit our ears was a few bars of KC & the Sunshine Band? You know where they're from; Miami, site of next year's game. That's where the halftime star, Enrique Iglesias, lives, too.

And it will cost the league much less to play it there, especially in front of the Super Bowl.

Despite wonderfully competitive games in the Super Bowl and the Pro Bowl the last two weeks, all is not well with the NFL right now. Like just about every other business, big and small, serious concerns exist about costs and there is much worry for the future (even if it is not admitted publicly).

We are told around 100 league employees face layoffs in the near future. Working at a place that just took a serious hit the other day, I can tell you it's no fun—for those left behind and, obviously, those let go.

Everyone's looking for ways to save money. A recession means you get choppers instead of jets for the pregame flyover. David Archuleta instead of the guy who beat him in “;American Idol”; for the national anthem.

Who better to talk to in times of despair than the man who asked if we believe in miracles?

Of course Al Michaels has an affinity for Hawaii, since he started his career here. But even if it's wishful thinking on his part, he sounds sure that the game will return.

“;It'll be back in two years. The league thinks playing it before the Super Bowl will add to the buzz,”; he said before yesterday's kickoff. “;It won't.”;

Still can't find a player who doesn't want it here every year.

They acted like it, too. This is the first time I can remember that no players begged out during the week of the game.

They put on a show worthy of their stature, especially Fitzgerald.

But the MVP for the week might be commissioner Roger Goodell, for calling out the state on the condition of Aloha Stadium.

Hey Barack, any bailout bucks for a 35-year-old rust palace?