Domonique Foxworth isn't in Honolulu, but he's monitoring Pro Bowl festivities closely from home, hoping the all-star game he played a large role in saving gets the jolt of life it needs.
Foxworth, the NFL Players Association's outgoing president, first pitched some of the key changes being implemented this week during the 2012 offseason after commissioner Roger Goodell threatened to cancel the game.
That includes the player draft by two Pro Football Hall of Fame captains (Deion Sanders and Jerry Rice this year), two-minute drills to end each quarter and the legalization of zone coverage.
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"Roger was very serious about potentially canceling the Pro Bowl because apparently it's very expensive and isn't of a ton of value to them," Foxworth told USA TODAY Sports this week.
"To be honest with you, I was completely comfortable with eliminating it until I talked to the players, and they said they loved it and they want to be there."
Not all players feel that way. The litany of "injury" scratches has been an issue for years, along with the quality of play and flagging fan support. But others consider the trip a reward and validation they've ascended among the NFL's elite.
For Foxworth – who had a seven-year NFL career as a cornerback but never made the Pro Bowl – the greatest fear is the "unconferenced" reboot could lead to a player injuring his own NFL teammate with a hit. Players participating have voiced the same.
"That's the only legitimate concern, and I completely understand it," Foxworth said. "I was faced with the possibility of canceling the game or trying to make it interesting. If some of these conflicts that we create make it so we can't go forward, then we'll throw the game out."
It won't be Foxworth's call. His term as NFLPA president ends in March. He's in business school at Harvard, recently completed a 10-day project for Kate Spade in Brazil and has been rumored as a candidate for executive director of the National Basketball Players Association.
If the changes to a seemingly unsalvageable event work out, the successful collaborative effort with the NFL would be a positive line on Foxworth's resume, given the labor strife that so often serves as a backdrop across pro sports.
"Hopefully," Foxworth said, "this particular relationship is like a catalyst to show that we can work together and not everything we do is like we're fighting against each other."
Kickoff – or whatever it's called, since kickoffs were eliminated, too – is set for 7:30 p.m. Eastern on Sunday.
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