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A different spin on sports by The Seattle Times staff and readers.

January 28, 2013 at 3:00 PM

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Pro Bowl: Why NFL should throw a flag on softest all-star game

Marc Singer, 42, is a lifelong Seahawks fan who grew up in the Seattle area but now resides in San Diego. He runs his own business from home, which allows far too much freedom to blow off his responsibilities and be a fan.

Maybe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should consider throwing a flag on the Pro Bowl.

Flag football, that is.

Considering that the injury potential is so great in a competitive tackle football game, maybe the Pro Bowl should be played as a flag-football game. All the rules of regular football in play, just without the tackling.

Sounds ridiculous, I know, but keep reading.

Think rugby toughness, but with NFL rules.Think NFL games without the threat of concussions and career-ending injuries. Think of a compelling competition pitting the league's best against the best. Think of something actually more like the games we crave on Sundays than the game we just saw this past Sunday.

Wouldn't it be more fun to watch these guys without helmets, playing harder, than it is to watch them with helmets, playing softer? Anyone who watched some of the NFL fiercest players almost spooning instead of tackling knows what I mean. Most people consider it the worst of the major pro sport all-star games, and that's saying something.

Playing flag football would be mean a ton of action, and we would see their faces, which is cool. The buzzword in the social-media world is “accessibility.” What’s more accessible than seeing our favorite NFL stars’ faces while playing?

And you know the players would like it. I mean, right now the NFL has to threaten them with a penalty just to get them to keep their helmets on.

Without the threat of injury, the competitive nature of these athletes’ personalities (aka egos) would make it a truly exciting battle. Without pads, their athleticism would be on display.

Some amazingly entertaining flag-football contests have been played in large stadiums with teams made up of amateurs, ex-college players, and former high-school stars. Massive flag-football tournaments take place throughout the country, year round.

If the Pro Bowl was a flag football game, the NFL could still have its showcase, play an exciting, competitive game, still give the fans their football. All while not having to pretend that everyone gave it their all (fooling no one in the process).

Weak, you say? In reality, flag football is fast and hard fought. And most pro-football players have played competitive flag football at some point.

Maybe it’s time the NFL was honest about the fact that this sport doesn’t lend itself to a meaningless exhibition game. It barely lends itself to meaningful exhibition games.

Everyone chuckled when Ed Hochuli, head referee for Sunday's game, opened his microphone and announced: “Yes, there are actually penalties in the Pro Bowl ...” Right in the middle of the game.

What more proof does the NFL need that it's time to throw a few more flags?

If you’d like to write a Take 2 post, email Sports Editor Don Shelton at or

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I agree that it is very soft, but to say for the NFL to throw in the towel is ridiculou... MORE
If you don't like it then don't watch it! I watched the entire game and enjoyed it ... MORE
What about the linemen? If you allow contact, you defeat the purpose of flag. If you... MORE

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