This morning, there was a practice that was free and open to the public. Thanks to my friend, Curt at Phins.com, I secured "VIP practice tickets"....way cool.
I learned on Thursday that anyone who was a Dolphins season ticket holder was also a member of this prestigious VIP club of 50,000. Less cool.
Undeterred, I went to the practice this morning, paid the $5 to park, and went in. There was a decent crowd - maybe 4,000 people in total - probably about half of whom were Dolphins ticket holders (or more likely had given their passes to their friends, because there were A LOT of other teams jerseys among those with the Dolphins credentials). The remaining half were fans of other teams who heard about this somewhere, because it was not well advertised.
The practice was at Lockhart stadium in Fort Lauderdale, and is more intimate than the confines of [insert stadium name here] stadium. I thought it had some potential. There was a Dolphins fan fest, with a bounce house, and a few things to do for kids. They had a wheel you could spin for $5 "everyone's a winner" of something....from a foam finger, to a player's used cleat, and everything in between. (Yeah, I won a cleat! Now what do I do with it?)
We wander in and find some seats, and there are cheerleaders performing, and a few mascots signing autographs.
At about 9, the NFC squad takes the field for "practice," which consists of them jogging a few offensive plays, working on the snap count on defense, and lining up on special teams. One player came over and signed a few autographs, but otherwise, they all stayed in the middle of field. No photos. No autographs. No interaction.
At a few minutes to 10, they left the field and the AFC came on. Same deal, except no one came over at all.
The cheerleaders were fairly interactive. They posed for pictures, talked with fans, and even signed autographs. The mascots were also still interacting.
Warren Sapp and Deion Sanders were both there for the NFL Network, but they both waved to fans and jogged off whenever anyone tried to get an autograph. Chris Mortensen was signing autographs, and was fairly gracious. And the Dolfan Bandits posed for pictures. I guess when that's all you give the fans, that's what they take.
At a few minutes to 11, the AFC left.
And that was that. It was over.
About the only cool thing was that the mic'd up the coaches so ocassionally you could hear them talking to players. Not very often, mind you, but it was something.
A lot of fans said they enjoyed themselves, but I really don't see it or understand it. It seemed like kind of a waste of time to me. But then that's the pro bowl for you. Its all kind of a waste.
I'm not annoyed, just generally disappointed, because this had so much potential. But it was clear the players were only there to have fun with each other, and didn't care otherwise. And that goes a long way to explaining the nearly 50% of the players were elected to the probowl who chose not to show up, but get paid anyway.
This is not about anything other than the money.