It’s not exactly “Super”, but it’s something
Playing in an NFL “Bowl” game come February possibly creates the widest spectrum of fortune in sports. The right one has you partaking in one of the most prestigious events in global pop culture. The other has you partaking in what appears to be the world’s only televised two-hand-touch football game.
The NFL staged its annual all-star game on Sunday afternoon, filling the penultimate week of the season before Super Bowl LVI caps things off next Sunday (6:30 p.m. ET, NBC). Though the Pro Bowl is at least intended to be a celebration of the NFL as a whole, some groups are, alas, left behind.
The New York Jets were one such squad, as the team was denied any participants, even with the slew of injury (and, frankly, indifference-induced) dropouts.
But, like Smash Mouth before them, Gang Green legends of the past have been more than willing to get their game on, go, and play.
1985: Oh, Hawaii, Mark
The idea of the Pro Bowl being a defensive struggle seems unthinkable in this day and age, but some editions from the past at least somewhat resembled the concept.
A 1985 AFC victory was not only decided when Kansas City’s Art Still took back a fumble 83 yards for the winning score, but it featured a clinic from legendary Jets defensive end Mark Gastineau.
Fresh off what some still consider to be the NFL’s all-time greatest single-sack season (22), Gastineau added four more for good measure in Honolulu, stopping Joe Montana and Neil Lomax on those occasions. The overseer of the New York Sack Exchange also earned a safety in the victory, making him an obvious choice for Hawaiian MVP honors.
Pro Bowl Week: 1985- After the AFC took a 17-7 lead, McMahon continued his struggles. NY Jets' DE Mark Gastineau came free running around Joe Jacoby to force a fumble which was recovered by Denver's Rulon Jones as Gastineau did a slight version of his sack dance. pic.twitter.com/jzQfzfWTuc
— BigBlueVCR (@BigBlueVCR) January 25, 2021
1999: Trouble in Paradise
As we covered earlier this week, Bill Belichick held the infamous title of “HC of the NYJ” for one game after an ill Bill Parcells turned over the bittersweet honor of heading up the AFC’s Pro Bowl group to his defensive coordinator following Gang Green’s defeat in the semifinal round to eventual champion Denver.
The football gods embarked on a cruel sense of irony in Honolulu. Not only did Belichick’s AFC squad prevail by a 23-10 margin (the first of several February victories for the future champion) but the game’s MVPs featured representation from both New York and New England: Keyshawn Johnson was the AFC’s leading receiver (87 yards on seven receptions) while Ty Law took back a Randall Cunningham interception the distance.
Two years later, another Law pick-six in front of Belichick served as the first score of the Patriots’ long-lasting Super Bowl dynasty.
Pro Bowl Week: 1998-The behind the scenes craziness of the Parcells/Belichick moves from the Pats to the Jets after 1996 would have blown up twitter. NY Jets staff coached the AFC but Parcells didn't go to Hawaii so Belichick went, which was the closest he came to being HC of NYJ pic.twitter.com/sw3tLrqBs3
— BigBlueVCR (@BigBlueVCR) January 29, 2021
2019: But, Mr. Adams…
It probably says more about the Jets’ recent fortunes and their supposed rivalry with the New England Patriots that Jamal Adams’ 2019 Pro Bowl excursion is remembered so fondly.
In the lead-up to his appearance in that season’s exhibition, Adams perhaps did what any football fan outside of New England wanted to do: take years of gridiron frustration out on some sort of representative from their Patriot overlords. It just so happened that the team mascot, Pat Patriot, was the first bearer of the Flying Elvis he could find, making a leaping hit that took the mascot out.
It was, perhaps, the hardest hit of the weekend, but Adams made an impact in the game itself through an interception and a sack in a rainy 26-7 AFC win in Orlando. For his efforts, Adams shared game MVP honors with Patrick Mahomes.
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) January 23, 2019
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags
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