It was initially reported that seven of the eight San Francisco 49ers selected for Sunday’s Pro Bowl in Honolulu were going to opt out of the game. Later it was learned the eighth, linebacker Ahmad Brooks, would join his teammates in not going to Hawaii.
According to Pro Football Talk, linebacker NaVorro Bowman and guard Mike Iupati opted out after sustaining major injuries in the NFC Championship. Running back Frank Gore also opted out and there are reports he suffered a broken hand.
Tonight with his broken hand, Frank Gore shook hands, signed autographs and met over 250 of his loyal fans.
— Leftys Sports (@LeftysSports) January 21, 2014
The report also said tackle Joe Staley, defensive tackle Justin Smith, linebacker Patrick Willis and tight end Vernon Davis were opting out of the game with various bumps and nicks associated with playing 19 NFL games over a 20-week stretch.
But later in the day, PFT also reported that Brooks was opting out of the game.
The NFL had hopes this year of reviving some interest in the Pro Bowl, changing the format to a “fantasy draft” of players being conducted Tuesday night on NFL Network by team captains Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders.
Having zero players representing the NFC runners-up would seem to be an indication the hoped-for wave of enthusiasm for the Pro Bowl—at least among the players—isn’t there.
I’ll admit it’s been several years since I watched a Pro Bowl—I’m not that wild about watching players move at three-quarter speed and try to avoid anything resembling contact.
It’s not that I don’t understand why the players don’t want to be there. I just don’t understand why commissioner Roger Goodell doesn’t finally see the handwriting on the wall and blow the thing up already.