NFL legend Jackie Slater welcomes Pro Bowl change: 'I think it’s absolutely overdue'
Oct 07, 2022
Former Rams offensive tackle Jackie Slater attends the NFL Hall of Fame Health Kick-Off Super Bowl Reception at Sony Pictures Studios on Feb. 9, 2022, in Culver City, California. (Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)
By Ryan Gaydos
Jackie Slater was a seven-time Pro Bowler for the Los Angeles Rams during his Hall of Fame career and when he heard the NFL made changes to the game earlier this week, he welcomed it.
Slater, who was a third-round pick out of Jackson State in 1976, played in 259 games for the Rams, including one appearance as a member of the St. Louis Rams in his final season in 1995. In his day, Slater would have to match up against some of the league’s most prolific pass rushers like Mark Gastineau, Howie Long, Jack Lambert and others in the NFL’s All-Star event.
Over the last few years, the Pro Bowl had turned into an event for fun rather than conference supremacy. At one point, the NFL even ditched the conference matchups altogether, opting for a fantasy draft to determine the teams.
The NFL announced a flag-football game will take place instead of the actual full-contact matchup and a weeklong competition series will occur as well – all happening in Las Vegas.
Slater told Fox News Digital in a recent interview, it’s about time.
"I think it’s absolutely overdue," Slater said. "It was a disgraceful display of our sport for a number of years and fortunately it wasn’t a disgrace when I was playing. When I was playing this game, you showed up as an offensive lineman you didn’t have no fun all week long because you had to deal with Howie Long, Mark Gastineau, you had to deal with Reggie White, you had to deal with Warren Sapp. You had to deal with these guys. You had to deal with John Randle.
"You had to deal with these guys, man. And these guys if they beat you twice, they got the MVP award – which (at the time) was a new car. I don’t think you have to work as hard for a new car nowadays."
Slater said he understood why the extra game wouldn’t be played as hard as the others. The NFL schedule is now 17 games, some guys avoid the event altogether because of injuries or the postseason and nobody wants to get hurt, which could negatively impact their next season or future contract.
"And I understand what’s going on. Guys are making a lot of money and they don’t want to go in and jeopardize your health and your salaries for the next season, have a worse offseason doing rehab. I could understand that. I left the Pro Bowl with my wrist broken one time and I had to wear this brace on my wrist for the remainder of my career. So, I understand all of that," Slater told Fox News Digital.
"But if you’re gonna have a Pro Bowl game, no holds can be barred. You’ve got to play the game and there’s too many incentives out there for everybody right now not to have the game. So, it’s probably long overdue. It probably was a bad taste in fans’ mouths for quite a while by watching that terrible display."
Slater said he attended last year’s event at Allegiant Stadium and was happy to see Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby ball out and win the MVP award.
The 68-year-old former tackle is now a board member of the Pro Football Retired Players Association. He said the goal for his group is to help retired football players get certain health benefits after they’re finished on the field.
"We have done a couple of things that I’m quite proud of. We established a dental insurance that guys have access to, them and their wives. We have optometrists they can go and see to deal with their eyes and issues like that." Slater said. "We’ve been doing this for a few years now and just delighted to be able to serve our brothers that way."
Read the original article on Fox News Digital.