Pro Bowl devoid of Super stars

In its infinite wisdom, the NFL decided to play its Pro Bowl the week before the Super Bowl, figuring it might garner a little interest.

But with more players dropping out of Sunday’s game in South Florida than if they had the swine flu, the NFL is going to have to rethink its plans for the game’s future. Come on, Vince Young and David Garrard as quarterbacks for the AFC? Please.

As many pundits are suggesting, they should rename this farce the “Semi-Pro Bowl.” The Indianapolis Colts had seven Pro Bowlers. But since league rules force them to participate in another game — you know, the Super Bowl — they have to skip Sunday’s “Semi-Pro Bowl.” Same for the NFC champion New Orleans Saints, who also had seven players selected, including quarterback Drew Brees. Philadelphia’s Donovan McNabb will replace him.

Yeah, this should be a dandy. Oh, and for you degenerates out there who have to have a bet on this game, the NFC is a 21/2-point favorite.

HOOKED ON READING — Shep Harder didn’t think Todd Richards would remember him when Richards was named coach of the Minnesota Wild. But little did Harder realize that his locker room demeanor always stuck in Richards’ mind.

Harder, a former goaltender who is the Wild’s director of hockey administration, was Richards’ teammate in the minor leagues. He also had a peculiar habit of reading books between periods. Harder said it helped him relax.

“Goalies are obviously quirky to begin with, and, yes, I did have a quirky habit,” Harder told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “A friend of mine’s dad (once) gave me an article on Mike Richter. And every U.S.-born goaltender loved Mike Richter. In the article, Richter said he’d read 30 minutes on every game day. So I followed it, and I found it helped me concentrate, helped relax me.

“I’m probably not remembered by name, but I’m the quirky goalie with the book. I wish I was remembered for stopping the puck, but unfortunately I didn’t do that consistently. I contend I was the one normal goaltender out there, but I guess the habit was befitting of a goaltender.”

DEAD-(BUCK)EYE SHOTS — Last weekend, Ohio State defeated Army in a rifle competition, 4,608-4,570. Given that shooting is a basic element of any soldier’s training, should that be cause for concern with our military when it is being outshot by civilians?

Maybe the Washington Wizards’ Gilbert Arenas can coach the Cadets since he won’t be playing basketball anytime soon after being suspended for the rest of the season Wednesday for having guns in the team’s home locker room.

PLEASE, DON’T PICK US — If Villanova coach Jay Wright is smart, and he is, he’ll text or tweet all the voters in the Associated Press college basketball poll this weekend and ask, no beg, them not to vote his Wildcats No. 1 on Monday. Ditto for Kansas’ Bill Self.

Given the short stay at the top in the past two weeks by Texas and Kentucky, can you blame Wright and Self for not wanting to be No. 1? Kentucky lost to South Carolina 68-63 Tuesday, and the Wildcats will fall from the top of the polls next week. Whoever takes their place, beware.


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