Russell Wilson has another chance at a Pro Bowl record, but today's game features the fewest Seahawks since 2010. Just in case you find yourself watching the Pro Bowl Sunday, here are seven things to know.
The Pro Bowl isn’t where any of the Seahawks wanted to be playing Sunday.
But that’s what Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner and Michael Dickson are left with — representing Seattle in Sunday’s annual exhibition of something that resembles NFL football.
While everyone realizes the league’s annual all-star game is becoming even more of touch-football fest each year — though who really wants to see anyone getting hurt? — a lot of people still watch.
Last year’s game drew a 5.3 rating, the highest in 2018 for any of the major pro sport all-star games, and an 8.8 in Seattle, the fourth-highest of any TV market in the country for the Pro Bowl.
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That means a lot of you are going to be watching when the game kicks off at noon on ESPN whether you really wanted to or not.
So even if you didn’t think you’d need it, here are seven things to know about the Pro Bowl.
1. Wilson is going for a little Pro Bowl history.
This isn’t the kind of NFL history Wilson cares much about. But every year that he plays — this season marks his sixth invite and fourth appearance — he has a chance to become the second player in NFL history to be named MVP twice. Wilson was the offensive MVP in 2016, with teammate Michael Bennett winning defensive honors.
Former Raiders QB Rich Gannon, who was the MVP in 2001 and 2002 when only one player was honored, is the only player to be named Pro Bowl MVP twice.
So there’s at least some incentive for not sleeping this week.
2. This is the fewest number of Seahawks in the game since 2010.
Dickson and Wagner were initial selections and Wilson was added as a replacement for the injured Aaron Rodgers. The Seahawks had a handful of other alternates — running back Chris Carson, receiver Tyler Lockett and defensive end Frank Clark — but none were called on.
That leaves the Seahawks with just three, the fewest since none made it in Pete Carroll’s first year as coach in 2010. Since then, Seattle has had at least five in every season (either as initial invites or added later), including a record-tying seven each of the last four years.
Just another “chip on the shoulder’’ to play with in 2019.
3. If you’re mad about that, blame everybody.
As a reminder, the teams are picked by a vote of fans, players and coaches, all accounting for one-third of the total.
There are 44 players initially picked to each team, which is fewer than the 53 on a regular NFL roster and the 46 of an active gameday roster.
4. Maybe don’t expect to see Michael Dickson a whole lot.
Seahawks fans might be excited at the prospect of seeing Dickson in action. He was the first rookie punter named to the Pro Bowl since 1985 (the Rams’ Dale Hatcher), and the first Seahawk since 1994 when Rick Tuten became the first Seahawk punter to make the Pro Bowl (so you lose if you thought maybe Dave Finzer or Vince Gamache had, at some point, gotten the call).
But who really wants to see punting in an all-star game?
No one appeared to want to punt last year as each coach often went for it on every fourth down — each team was 1-3 — which meant there was only one punt in the game (a 60-yarder by Bothell High alum-turned Ram Johnny Hekker).
5. Maybe this will be Bobby Wagner’s year to shine.
The year that Bennett won MVP honors, Wagner was actually the leading tackler with 10. That’s one of just two times Wagner has appeared in the game. He happily skipped 2014 along with the other six Seahawks to play in the Super Bowl. He sat out last year because of a hamstring injury.
Despite all he’s accomplished, Wagner may still not be quite the national household name he’d like to be, and there are worse bets out there than thinking Wagner will do what he can to heighten his profile Sunday.
6. Seattle once hosted a Pro Bowl.
The Pro Bowl is in Orlando, Fla., where it has been since 2017, held at Camping World Stadium (fun fact: The stadium was also used in the movie The Waterboy and in the old TV show Coach).
There was a time when the game moved around, and Seattle hosted the 1977 game. The contest came with being given entry into the league in 1976 (expansion partner Tampa Bay also got a game), making Seattle one of 15 cities to host a Pro Bowl.
It was an affair chock full of Chucks — the coaches were Chuck Knox (then with the Rams, a few years before he made the Kingdome home) and Chuck Noll of the Steelers with Chuck Heberling as the head referee. Pittsburgh cornerback Mel Blount played despite an ankle injury suffered in practice and won MVP honors with two interceptions as the AFC beat the NFC 24-14 in front of 63,214.
7. And yes, they get paid for it.
The money provides at least something of a motivating factor as the members of the winning team in the Pro Bowl each receive $67,000 while the losers get $34,000.
That winner’s share is actually more than half the participants in the Super Bowl will get. The winners of the Super Bowl each get $118,000, the losers $59,000.
Players who are named to the Pro Bowl initially (meaning, not injury replacements such as Wilson) also may earn incentives if they are written into their contracts (neither Wagner nor Dickson are reported to have any).