Am I actually going to watch the Pro Bowl? Technically, yes, in the sense that I will be in the same room where it is showing on a television set. But I won’t watch it like I’d watch a real game, and neither will you. Because it’s not a real game. It’s less of a real game than the pickup game we play in our backyards. It’s a game between two groups of players who felt like taking a paid vacation to Hawaii in exchange for putting on their uniforms for a couple of hours, learning a few plays and agreeing not to hurt each other. (”No blitzes, okay?” “Okay, but no noogies, either.”) It’s not quite pro wrestling — the outcome isn’t predetermined, or so I’d like to think — but it’s also not as fun as pro wrestling.
To entertain yourself during the game, should you choose to be in the same room as a television set on which it is playing, here are a few suggestions:
1) Draw sketches of what Peyton Manning would look like in the uniforms of the Redskins, Cardinals, Dolphins, Seahawks or 49ers. (I stick by my prediction several months ago that he’ll end up on the Redskins only because it ticked off so many readers and because I’m going to look like a genius if it happens.)
2) Count how many times the announcers use the phrase “sun-drenched” to describe the field. I predict eight.
3) Count how many times the announcers mention Billy Cundiff’s missed field goal and Kyle Williams’ muff-and-fumble from last week’s championship games? I predict twice. And both times we will be reminded that football is a team sport and that teams win and lose together.
4) Read a good book while occasionally glancing at the TV set. Seriously, the Pro Bowl is one of the best opportunities to catch up on your reading. (I’d suggest my new book, Everybody Says Hello, but it isn’t out yet. Try Craig Clevenger’s The Contortionist's Handbook or anything by Jonathan Lethem.)
5) Put together a list of what you would do to fix your favorite team. (Giants and Patriots fans can skip this one, for now.) Then see if you have the guts to stick it in an envelope and mail it off to the GM. It’s funny, but while we all gripe that we could do a better job, when it comes time to actually figure out how to do it, we only come to appreciate how difficult it is. And if you do try this, don’t forget about the salary cap. That’ll screw you up every time.
7) Start working on your tax returns. They’re due sometime this spring, I believe. You could do a Google search for the exact date, if there is one.
8) Count the number of times the announcers mention a player whose “injury” prevented him from appearing in the game. I’m guessing it’ll happen six times.
9) Cancel your plans to go to a Super Bowl party so you can watch the game at home with your family and a few close friends who will actually watch the game. If your experiences are anything like mine, at most Super Bowl parties you’re lucky to get a seat, you can’t hear the announcers and the guests spend more time talking than paying attention to the game — and expect you to do the same. Me, I’ve already turned down all Super Bowl party invitations and am making plans to watch the game at home with my wife and daughter. Shopping list: one loaf of Italian bread, one package of bologna, one bag of chips, one jar of pickles, one box of cookies, and a few bottles of soda. (You think I’m kidding? Call my wife. That is our exact shopping list for the Super Bowl. No one ever said we were classy.)
10) Count the ads for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close that run during the game. I’m guessing three. And I’m also guessing I’ll be going to see it as soon as the game ends.
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Sports Bog: London Fletcher’s Pro Bowl practice glove