Sunday will mark the NFL’s lone two-hand touch game of the season…otherwise known as the Pro Bowl.
Whereas other All-Star Games the major sports leagues have memorable moments…MLB had the famous extra inning game at old Yankee Stadium, Magic Johnson’s triumphant return went down at the NBA All-Star Game, and John Scott had the best weekend ever at least season’s NHL All-Star events…the Pro Bowl is so constantly despised, many wish for it to go the way of St. Louis and San Diego and disappear entirely.
However, the Pro Bowl does have its share of memories. Grab your Mouse Ears and hula skirts and take this trip down memory lane with us…
That Time Ed Hochuli Actually Called A Penalty
Most referees would let penalties go in the Pro Bowl, a game whose stats are more than likely stored and archived near the rest rooms at the NFL facility. No one would have blamed the officials for looking the other way and getting on with the “game”.
Ed Hochuli, of course, is not most officials.
Attorney by day, strongman by night, and official by the fall, Hochuli had the audacity and guts to call this penalty on Champ Bailey, who interfered with Vincent Jackson en route to an NFC touchdown drive in their 62-35 victory in the 2013 edition. Much to the delight of the crowd and struggling to contain his laughter, Hochuli addressed the crowd with “Yes, there are penalties in the Pro Bowl”. It captured the silliness of the game in one epic moment, as well as the legend that is Hochuli.
Jeff Saturday Switches Teams
We constantly rip on star athletes for “ring chasing”, switching teams with reckless abandon in search for a piece of jewelry. Jeff Saturday, one of the most dominant linemen of the new century, had the audacity to do it during a game!!! In the final quarter of the 2013 game, Saturday, a member of the NFC’s Packers, took a snap for the AFC, but the occasion was perfectly acceptable. The game was to be the final contest for Saturday, and he defected to the NFC to snap to his former teammate, Peyton Manning, who was repping the Broncos of the AFC. Manning and Saturday had so many years of prosperity together, and as two players who helped put Indianapolis on the football map, it was an incredible moment to share together.
Jack Youngblood Plays Injured
These days, it appears players will do ANYTHING to skip the Pro Bowl. Did you know, for example, so many “injuries” overtook the AFC squad in 2008 that Derek Anderson…who was QB’ing the Browns…got to go to the game? Don’t tell that to Jack Youngblood, who played the game on a broken left fibula! Youngblood sustained the injury in the NFC Divisional Playoff win against Dallas, but toughed it out to play in the exhibition. Youngblood also played with the injury in a slightly more important game the week before…Super Bowl XIV.
Check out Youngblood recalling the game here.
Yancey Thigpen’s One Handed Grab And Score
Thigpen may no longer be a household name, but he’s probably best know for two things. In 1998, he signed a 5-year, $21.5 million deal with the team then known as the Tennessee Oilers…at the time the highest contract a receiver ever earned (times have certainly changed)…but also for the longest score in Pro Bowl history, taking a one-handed grab from Jeff Blake and taking it 93 yards in the 1996 game, when Thigpen was repping the Steelers.
Check out the play here.
Alex Mack’s Score
Many had more than likely departed their television screens for the final play of the 2011 game, with NFC leading the AFC 55-35. They missed what could possibly be the most amazing and pathetic play in NFL history.
With the game more or less in hand, the AFC ran one more play, as Kansas City’s Matt Cassel (!!!!) found teammate Dwayne Bowe. The Cal-Stanford-esque antics ensued, as Bowe lateraled the ball to Montell Owens of Baltimore who was hugged…quite literally…by Brent Grimes. Mack, sensing a rare opportunity for a touchdown by an offensive lineman…but, even more rare, a touchdown by a Cleveland Brown…ran over and called for the ball. Owens responded, and Mack took it the rest of the way, getting only resistance from New Orleans’s Roman Harper, who dared not test the big man’s patience for the score!
Sean Taylor’s Big Hit
Even as a former special teamer, I can certainly admit…this truly is one heck of a hit on punter Brian Moorman and is a testament to the type of player Taylor was…he would always go 100 percent no matter the situation, and the 2007 Pro Bowl hit on Buffalo punter Brian Moorman was no exception. To his credit, Moorman even congratulates Taylor on the hit, a greatness appreciated by all.
For the 2008 game, Taylor was posthumously named to the NFL squad, and his Washington teammates Chris Cooley and Ethan Albright wore Taylor’s number of 21 on their Pro Bowl jerseys.