The Pro Bowl, in its current state, is a sordid affair.
What we saw on the field last January -- a listless 59-41 AFC victory over the NFC -- led John Madden to publicly call out the annual all-star game on Wednesday.
"And having said that, I think everyone knows that," Madden said. "I know all the players know it. So, as they were told last night, we're not only playing this for ourselves and right now, we're playing it for all the future players."
"The past two years, the play in this game has been unacceptable," Manning said. "If it was a walkthrough, your coach would say it was a bad walkthrough. And that's why (the league) could try to cancel this game."
Commissioner Roger Goodell takes plenty of heat from fans and players alike, but we struggle to disagree with his feelings about the state of the Pro Bowl. There's no reason to devote three hours to the mess we were offered last winter.
It's distressing that a pep talk from Manning is required to motivate multi-millionaire athletes entrusted to give their best on the field. Even perennial Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey of the Broncos acknowledged to Darlington, "I think we do get over here and get relaxed. The sense of urgency leading up to the game isn't there. It takes something like (Manning's speech) to get you going, to understand the importance of it. I get it. We should play hard."
That message -- an obvious one -- has become blurred. If the NFL's best players value a week's respite in paradise, it's high time to turn up the heat on game day.
Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.