GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers wasn’t happy with the effort shown by some of his NFC teammates in the Pro Bowl game, and he said so publicly on Tuesday.
“I felt like some of the guys on the NFC side embarrassed themselves,” Rodgers said on his weekly radio show on 540 WAUK in Milwaukee. “I was a little bit disappointed. I feel like there should be some pride involved in a game like that. I was just surprised by some of the efforts by some of the guys.”
The Pro Bowl has been criticized for years as being a meaningless game that players don’t take seriously. Because it takes place one week before the Super Bowl, no players from those two teams are there — just as the Packers weren’t present last year. This year’s game was a 59-41 AFC victory, setting a record for most combined points scored.
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Sunday was Rodgers’ second Pro Bowl, but he said when he last played in the game two years ago, “that one had a lot more energy.”
Rodgers wasn’t disappointed in both sides, however. His criticism was directed mostly at his NFC teammates.
“The AFC side obviously had more energy,” Rodgers said. “I think they were upset by the second onside kick, and at that point on, they played a lot harder than we did. Even in the early going, they were playing definitely harder than we were.”
This year’s Pro Bowl, like most in years past, featured plenty of wide-open running lanes, lackadaisical pass coverage and few attempts at quality tackling.
There is little incentive for players to give a strong effort. The only difference that comes from the game’s outcome is that players on the winning team receive $50,000, while players on the losing team receive $25,000.
One of the biggest player concerns is suffering an injury, but Rodgers doesn’t agree with the idea that it’s easier to avoid getting hurt by not playing hard.
“I’ve always found that if you’re going that (slow) tempo, that’s when injuries are going to happen, not when you’re going full speed,” Rodgers said. “You’re more likely to get an injury standing around a pile or kind of going through it half-speed.
“I’m not sure what the NFL can do to improve that tempo. Maybe offer more money for a victory than a loss. Even more (than it currently is), make the spread that much more (than the $50,000 to $25,000 payment).”
Rodgers liked the effort given by fellow quarterback Drew Brees on the NFC side.
“Drew Brees, who doesn’t have a contract, who’s a free agent potentially, he played the whole second quarter and played well,” Rodgers said. “Just like I did in 2010, I took a lot of pride in the way I played. I wanted to know the plays, I wanted to play well, I wanted to give the fans a show.
“Overall, I was just disappointed in the lack of pride by some of the players playing in the game. I was just surprised that some of the guys either didn’t want to play, or when they were in there, didn’t put any effort into it.”