GREEN BAY – Aaron Rodgers watched just enough of the Pro Bowl to hear what the storyline was – that the effort level of the players involved was much improved.
“I think that there was a lot of talk about how hard the game was played,” the Green Bay Packers quarterback said Tuesday. “It seemed like that was one of the focuses for everyone involved was to talk about how hard the game was being played.”
But Rodgers, who pulled out of the game after being chosen as the NFC’s starting quarterback, said Tuesday that he didn’t watch enough to know whether or not that was actually the case.
“I don’t know. I’m not sure,” Rodgers said on his weekly radio show on 540 ESPN and ESPNWisconsin.com. “I think in this case you’d maybe have to watch more of the game to have a good opinion on that, so … I don’t want to comment on how hard it was played.
“I did think that the one guy who stood out in the few moments I watched was J.P.P. (New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul). It looked like he was going hard about every snap, so I got to give him a lot of credit for that. I’m sure he didn’t make the (AFC offensive) tackle across from him very happy, but he looked like he was coming pretty hard every play.”
After playing in last year’s game, Rodgers’ questioned the effort level put forth by some of his NFC teammates, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell backed up that contention by threatening to cancel the game if the players didn’t try harder. The consensus – and the topic repeatedly discussed by NBC announcers Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth – was that the players clearly wanted the game to continue because they did indeed play harder.
Of course, that didn’t address another issue the game faces: That many of its marquee players wind up not going at all. Rodgers pulled out of the game with what he termed “a couple legit injuries,” as did outside linebacker Clay Matthews. All three of the NFC’s selected quarterbacks did not participate, and five of the seven New England Patriots selected – including QB Tom Brady – did not go to Hawaii.
Packers right guard Josh Sitton was among the alternates who got to play in the game, as he replaced Super Bowl-bound San Francisco 49ers guard Mike Iupati.
“It’s an honor to be selected because you’ve got to understand it’s a three part system – the fans, the coaches and your fellow players. That makes you feel good,” Rodgers said. “Voting is always interesting, sometimes guys like Josh Sitton don’t get voted in … it’s kind of a year after they should be voted in. That’s, I know, an area of contention among people. It is a good time; I was one of the few guys who probably was able to go to the Pro Bowl in Florida and Hawaii.”
Rodgers played in his first Pro Bowl following the 2009 season, when the game was played in South Florida, the site of Super Bowl XLIV that year.
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