HONOLULU — Adrian Peterson signed and tossed miniature footballs into the Aloha Stadium stands, then chatted up Hall of Famers Eric Dickerson and Marcus Allen. Arian Foster played Peyton Manning’s bodyguard for stadium cameras and told fans he recently walked on hot lava.
The Pro Bowl players practiced a little, too, on a sunny Saturday in Honolulu one day before an all-star game that will likely be used to determine its own future.
But the game’s main purpose is fun, said several players including Minnesota tight end Kyle Rudolph and Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles.
“I feel like there’s no responsibility, it’s just all about fun,” Charles said. “You work hard during the year — it’s not like a competitive game.”
Competition — or at least the appearance of it — is exactly what the NFL is looking for from its stars today as it uses the game as a measurement of whether it’s worth putting on in future years. Commissioner Roger Goodell has said the game will stop if play doesn’t improve, drawing mixed reactions from top players all over the league.
Chicago cornerback Charles Tillman says he doesn’t want this year’s Pro Bowl players to be known as the group who led to the game’s cancellation, taking away an honor and privilege for future players.
“I don’t want this to happen on my watch,” he said.
Rudolph said the players’ natural competitiveness will help make the game entertaining.
“It’s a game we want to win, so it’ll be fun,” Rudolph said.
The game should see plenty of scoring, thanks to limits on blitzing and defensive schemes. Bookmakers in Las Vegas expect a combined 811⁄2 points scored, with the AFC squad slightly favored. The NFC and AFC have won five Pro Bowls each in the last 10 meetings.