Saturday, February 6, 1999

P R O _ B O W L


It’s still
THE game

The Pro Bowl remains
Hawaii's premier sports
event after 20 years

By Paul Arnett


Ben Cayetano didn't want his epitaph to read:

"Here lies the governor
who lost the Pro Bowl."

So when it came time to renegotiate the contract last year for the National Football League all-star game, Cayetano did his best Jack Lord imitation -- "There's no way this game gets off this rock."

Some may criticize the five-year deal signed in January of 1998 that calls for the state to pay the NFL $3 million for tomorrow's sellout at Aloha Stadium, but this is one event Hawaii couldn't afford to fumble away.

"The Pro Bowl generates up to $100 million in total spending and about $5 million in state and local tax revenues," Cayetano said, refering to a study conducted in 1996. "The Pro Bowl is one of Hawaii's major sports attractions."

For the past 20 years, it has been THE attraction in the island chain. Tomorrow, somebody will be the one millionth Aloha Stadium fan to see the AFC-NFC game, which by most accounts, had a near-death experience in Los Angeles in 1979.

The following year, Honolulu became the first city without direct ties to the NFL to host the game. At the time, few believed it would survive the decade, much less thrive at the close of the century.

But of all the events hosted by Hawaii, none has had a bigger or more far-reaching impact than the Pro Bowl.

"The partnership between the state of Hawaii and the NFL is a strong one," NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said yesterday. "This is a great place to play the game and to have all the events during the week that lead up to it. Both the NFL and Hawaii have benefited by keeping the Pro Bowl here."

Earlier this decade, Hawaii almost became a victim of its own success. Several cities, including Tokyo, saw the Pro Bowl potential and thought about bidding against Honolulu for the rights of the game.

Even now, Honolulu is fending off a bid by Orlando, Fla., to host the Pro Bowl as soon as 2002 or 2003. Officials of that tourist destination put together an attractive package, forcing Hawaii to come up with a viable game plan.

Due in part to the Hawaii Host Committee, various Pro Bowl Week events have been created at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Aloha Tower Marketplace, and the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall to make the Pro Bowl more of a happening. The NFL announced this week that 11 Hawaii-based companies signed on to be sponsors to help defray the costs of being a host city.

ABC-TV and ESPN have done their part to promote not only the Hawaiian Islands, but the game and events leading up to it as well. The "Battle of the Gridiron," filmed at the Ihilani Resort, was seen by 2 million viewers last year. The NFL all-star game itself drew 7.7 million people.

ESPN and ESPN2, have shown a variety of broadcasts all week that include the "Rookie Beach Bowl" and "Up Close" interviews of the players. But without the fans and their love for the NFL, there wouldn't be a Pro Bowl.

"I think Hawaii's love affair for this game is obvious to the players who come here," San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young said. "I love coming here and hanging out. The fans are polite and understanding of your time."

This morning, fans jammed into Aloha Stadium to see the team pictures taken. It's an excellent opportunity for autographs and a close look at the game's best in a relaxed atmosphere.

On Thursday, Denver quarterback John Elway didn't leave the practice setting without spending some time with fans, who were hanging over a wall for autographs. This could be the last game Elway ever plays.

"My family loves coming to Hawaii," Elway said. "After 20 games, it's tough to want to play in another one, but I'll be in there for a series or two."

The game also has produced some interesting, if sometimes strange, sideshows. Who can forget former Dallas Cowboys head coach Barry Switzer sitting on the sidelines eating a hot dog in the middle of the game a few years ago?

Recent Hall of Fame inductee Lawrence Taylor got into an altercation with a taxi driver following a Pro Bowl in the late 1980s.

Or how about former San Francisco 49ers head coach George Seifert, who turned around to see if Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman was available, only to learn he had left the building?

Seifert also was upset about the ending in the 1991 game. Down 23-21, the NFC set up New Orleans kicker Morten Andersen for a 46-yard field goal.

But instead of rushing only five guys, the AFC sent everybody, causing Andersen to miss the kick. Seifert sought out the officials, but it proved to be a waste of time.

Last year, Oakland's Kevin Gogan became the first Pro Bowl player to be kicked out for fighting. Not that the Raiders limit their intimidation tactics to the field.

In Howie Long's final Pro Bowl, a local reporter almost had his head caved in by the current Fox analyst just for asking if his future was in broadcasting.

Arizona's Larry Centers wasn't sure what his future held several years ago. He was reportedly locked in his room in dire straits, but was "saved" by the Rev. Reggie White in the waters off the Ihilani Resort. Perhaps White saved his best for last. Tomorrow's game could be the final time the Green Bay lineman suits up.

"This has always been a good week for me," said White, who is making a Pro Bowl record 11th appearance. "The fans are always here. I can't imagine it ever being played anywhere else."


bulletTailgate Party Official Pro Bowl Tailgate Party, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., inside Aloha Stadium. Advanced purchased tickets and game tickets required. Information: 488-0924.

bulletAFC-NFC Pro Bowl Kickoff at 1 p.m., Aloha Stadium.

Associated Press
Patriots running back Robert Edwards is carried off after
injuring his left leg in the NFL rookie beach flag football game.

Pats’ Edwards might
be lost for ’99

Staff and wire reports


Robert Edwards may be lost for the 1999 season after undergoing surgery to repair a dislocated left knee suffered during the NFL Rookie Beach Bowl game on Waikiki Beach Friday, according to two Patriots officials.

The running back from Georgia, who gained 1,115 yards in 1998 after being New England's first draft choice, was hurt while defending a pass in the four-on-four flag football game that is one of the preliminaries for tomorrow's Pro Bowl.

Playing for the AFC, Edwards went up with teammate Charles Woodson of the Oakland Raiders to try to deflect a pass by Detroit Lions quarterback Charlie Batch intended for San Francisco 49er R.W. McQuarters.

The dislocation was so severe that it injured an artery, and Edwards underwent surgery at Straub Clinic and Hospital by an NFL-approved orthopedic specialist. Further details were unavailable, but two Patriots officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Edwards's 1999 season is in jeopardy.

The Patriots issued a statement from coach Pete Carroll, who said, "We are still collecting information as to the specifics and the extent of the injury. Obviously, we are very concerned about Robert. We are anxious to bring him back to New England so our doctors can evaluate him and start the rehabilitation process."

It's possible the Patriots will have to consider again drafting a running back in the first round in April or try for one in free agency, where there are few of quality this year.

At the end of the play on which he was hurt, Edwards did not get up, lying in the sand for several minutes at the edge of the field. He was finally carried off, to the applause of the huge crowd.

Because there was no medical tent, a buffet table under a canopy just off the field was cleared and Edwards was placed on it. He was examined by the attending physician, James Scoggin, an orthopedist. A New York Jets trainer was also in attendance, according to an NFL official.

"He jumped, and when he landed, it happened," said Pittsburgh Steelers running back Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala, who was on the AFC sideline when the accident occurred. "He and Woodson went up to pick off the ball, but I think Woodson landed on his leg."

Woodson didn't think he landed on Edwards's leg but acknowledged that the two were going for the ball.

20 years of Aloha

NFC 37, AFC 27

January 27, 1980, Attendance: 49,800

Running back Chuck Muncie of the New Orleans Saints runs for two touchdowns and throws a 25-yard option pass for another score. MVP: Muncie

NFC 21, AFC 7

Feb. 1, 1981. Attendance 50,360

Kicker Eddie Murray of the Detroit Lions boots four field goals and quarterback Steve Bartkowski of the Atlanta Falcons tosses a 55-yard touchdown pass as the NFC wins its fourth straight game. MVP: Murray

AFC 16, NFC 13

Jan. 31, 1982. Attendance: 50,402

Nick Lowery of the Kansas City Chiefs kicks a 23-yard field goal with three seconds left to give the AFC a victory. Tight end Kellen Winslow of the San Diego Chargers catches six passes for 89 yards. MVPs: Winslow, Lee Roy Selmon of the Tampa Bay Bucs.

NFC 20, AFC 19

Feb. 6, 1983. Attendance: 49,883

Quarterback Danny White of the Dallas Cowboys throws an 11-yard pass to receiver John Jefferson of the Green Bay Packers with 35 seconds remaining as the NFC rallies from nine points behind. San Diego Chargers quarterback Dan Fouts completes 17 of 30 passes for 274 yards. MVPs: Fouts, Jefferson

NFC 45, AFC 3

Jan. 29, 1984. Attendance: 50,445

Quarterback Joe Theismann of the Washington Redskins completes 21 of 27 passes for 242 yards and three touchdowns as the NFC wins for the sixth time in seven years. MVP: Theismann

AFC 22, NFC 14

Jan. 27, 1985. Attendance: 50,385

Defensive end Art Still of the Kansas City Chiefs recovers and fumble and returns it 83 yards for a touchdown to clinch the victory. New York Jets defensive lineman Mark Gastineau has four of the game's 17 sacks. MVP: Gastineau

NFC 28, AFC 24

Feb. 2, 1986. Attendance: 50,101

New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms throws three second-half touchdown passes as the NFC rallies from a 24-7 halftime deficit. Simms completes 15 of 27 passes for 212 yards. MVP: Simms

AFC 10, NFC 6

Feb. 1, 1987. Attendance: 50,101

Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway throws a 10-yard pass to Los Angeles Raiders tight end Todd Christensen for the game's only touchdown. It is the lowest-scoring game in Pro Bowl history. Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Reggie White has four sacks. MVP: White

AFC 15, NFC 6

Feb. 7, 1988. Attendance: 50,113

Quarterback Jim Kelly scores the game's only touchdown on a 1-yard run. AFC defenders sack NFC quarterbacks eight times with Buffalo Bills defensive end Bruce Smith getting two of them. MVP: Smith

NFC 34, AFC 3

Jan. 29, 1989. Attendance: 50,113

Dallas Cowboys running back Herschel Walker runs for two touchdowns and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham passes for 63 yards and rushes for 49 as the NFC scores 34 unanswered points. MVP: Cunningham

NFC 27, AFC 21

Feb. 4, 1990. Attendance: 50,445

The NFC defense forces five turnovers and scores two touchdowns. Los Angeles Rams defensive back Jerry Gray returns and interception 51 yards for a score and Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Keith Millard rumbles eighth yards with a fumble recover for another. MVP: Gray

AFC 23, NFC 21

Feb. 3, 1991. Attendance: 50,345

Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly throws a 13-yard touchdown pass to Houston Oilers' wide receiver Ernest Givins late in the fourth quarter as the AFC rallies to snap a two-game losing streak. Bills defensive end Bruce Smith has three sacks and blocks a field goal. MVP: Kelly

NFC 21, AFC 15

Feb. 2, 1992. Attendance: 50,209

Quarterback Chris Miller of the Atlanta Falcons throws an 11-yard touchdown pass to San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice with 4:04 left in the game to win it. Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin catches eight passes for 125 yards in his first Pro Bowl. MVP: Irvin

AFC 23, NFC 20

Feb. 7, 1993. Attendance: 50,007

Despite being outgained, 471-114, the AFC forces six turnovers, blocks two field goals (one of which was returned for a touchdown), returns an interception for a touchdown and beats the NFC on Kansas City Chiefs kicker Nick Lowery's 33-yard field goal with 4:09 to go in overtime. Buffalo Bills special teams ace Steve Tasker makes four tackles, forces a fumble and blocks a field goal. MVP: Tasker

NFC 17, AFC 3

Feb. 6, 1994. Attendance: 50,026

Wide receiver Andre Rison of the Atlanta Falcons catches six passes for 86 yards and the NFC forces six turnovers and keeps the ball for more than 38 minutes. Running back Jerome Bettis of the Los Angeles Rams and wide receiver Cris Carter of the Minnesota Vikings score the game's only touchdowns. MVP: Rison

AFC 41, NFC 13

Feb. 5, 1995. Attendance: 49,121

Indianapolis Colts rookie running back Marshall Faulk rushes for a Pro Bowl record 180 yards and a touchdown as the AFC rallies from a 10-0 deficit with an avalanche of points in the second and fourth quarters. Faulk's 49-yard touchdown run from punt formation is the longest in Pro Bowl history. MVP: Faulk

NFC 20, AFC 13

Feb. 4, 1996. Attendance: 50,034

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice catches six passes for 82 yards and a touchdown to lead the NFC to victory. Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jeff Blake throws a 93-yard touchdown pass to Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Yancey Thigpen. It is the longest TD pass in Pro Bowl history. MVP: Rice

AFC 26, NFC 23

Feb. 2, 1997. Attendance: 50,031

The teams combined for a Pro Bowl record 962 total yards and Indianapolis Colts kicker Cary Blanchard wins it with a 37-yard field goal 8:16 into overtime. Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell throws an 80-yard touchdown pass to Oakland Raiders wide receiver Tim Brown to tie the game and send it into the extra period. MVP: Brunell

AFC 29, NFC 24

Feb. 1, 1998. Attendance: 49,995

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Warren Moon capped the AFC's comeback with a 1-yard run with seconds to play in the game. The AFC scored 15 unanswered points in the final 5:38. Oakland Raiders wide receiver Tim Brown catches five passes for 129 yards. MVP: Moon

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