The NFL is hoping to decide the fate of the Pro Bowl by the time it releases next season’s schedule in April. And the fate of the league’s all-star game will largely depend on how much effort this year’s participants put into the game.
Ray Anderson, NFL executive vice president of football operations, told reporters of the timing at a news conference Tuesday to kick off this year’s Pro Bowl week in Honolulu. He said the league expects its players to play a game that fans will be proud of.
“Our hope is that the players will give the same effort and energy that allowed them to become roster members of this Pro Bowl,” Anderson said.
Commissioner Roger Goodell nearly canceled the game after uninspiring play last year, when the AFC won, 59-41, but the game will be held Sunday at Aloha Stadium after discussions between the league and the player’s union.
Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman, a Pro Bowl player for the second straight year, says the message to players has been clear. He said players need to balance playing hard with avoiding injury, to give fans the game they deserve without hurting their teams going into next year.
“We owe it to our fans, we owe it to our viewers, to give them a little more effort than we did last year,” Tillman said.
LEAGUE WILL TAKE LOOK AT TOM BRADY’S SLIDE
The NFL is looking into Tom Brady’s leg-up slide that hit Ravens safety Ed Reed during the AFC championship game.
League spokesman Greg Aiello said “any play of that nature is routinely reviewed.” Brady could be subject to a fine if the league believes he violated any player safety rules.
During the final minute of the first half, Brady slid at the end of an impromptu run. The quarterback’s upraised leg hit the onrushing Reed, who temporarily limped away. Reed was not injured.
Reed says Brady apologized for the slide.
“He’s just apologized and whatnot,” Reed said, “But I told him, ‘You know, it’s good, man.’ ”
Reed did not believe Brady was trying to hurt him.
Ravens safety Bernard Pollard said Brady should be disciplined by the NFL, which levies fines on defensive players for helmet-to-helmet hits.
“If you want to keep this going in the right direction, everyone should be penalized for their actions,” Pollard said, adding Brady “knew what he was doing.
“It has to go both ways. Hopefully the NFL will do something about it. If they don’t, that’s fine. If they do, then that’s fine.”
New Orleans coach Sean Payton’s season-long suspension for his role in the Saints’ bounty program was lifted Tuesday, nearly two weeks earlier than expected. … After minority candidates were recently shut out by NFL teams for 15 head coach or general manager jobs, the Fritz Pollard Alliance wants the Rooney Rule to include coordinators, assistant head coaches and club president positions. … Cowboys defensive lineman Jay Ratliff is free on bond after his arrest on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. The arrest came less than a month after fellow Cowboys nose tackle Josh Brent was indicted on an intoxicated manslaughter count in the Dec. 8 crash that killed his friend and Cowboys practice squad member Jerry Brown. … Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph was added to the NFC Pro Bowl team as an injury replacement for the Falcons’ Tony Gonzalez. … Police haven’t identified any suspects yet in the home invasion robbery at the Colorado home of Patriots defensive back Derrick Martin. Two masked men forced their way into Martin’s home in the Denver suburb of Aurora on Sunday night when he was with the team at the AFC championship game.