Peyton Manning took the Pro Bowl seriously. Check out that look of determination… (Marco Garcia / Associated…)
Peyton Manning has built up a lot of credibility in the NFL. The four-time MVP apparently has decided to cash in some of it in an effort to ensure the league's best players continue receiving an annual expenses-paid trip to Hawaii -- a.k.a. the Pro Bowl.
Commissioner Roger Goodell has threatened to get rid of the event if players continue to turn in lackluster efforts such as the ones that caused fans to boo last season. Before this year's game on Sunday, Manning told the players that such underwhelming efforts were "unacceptable."
After the game, Manning sounded like he felt they had done enough to save the Pro Bowl.
''That's for him to decide,'' the Denver Broncos quarterback said of Goodell. ''I thought it was a good, competitive game.''
Really? A 62-35 NFC victory was good? And competitive? Maybe Manning stopped watching after he left the game early in the second quarter, when the AFC trailed, 10-7.
But other participants seemed to feel the same way.
"It definitely was better, especially compared to last few years," Denver cornerback Champ Bailey said. "That's all they [NFL executives] really want to see. It felt more like a real game. No one let people run past them."
Key words: "compared to last few years."
"It was a little more high intensity than in years' past," New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz said. "It really did feel like a real game out there. People were hitting. It wasn't touch football; guys were laying some licks. It had the energy of a real game. My body feels like it just went through a real game."
Key words: "a little more."
OK, so players were putting in a little more effort compared to the last few years. Still, that didn't make the game good or competitive.
Sorry, guys. You may have to start paying for your own trips to Hawaii.
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