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Former Packers 1st-round pick Darrell Thompson supports Pro Bowl trade: ‘I can’t play football half-heartedly’


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Former Green Bay Packers running back Darrell Thompson supported the NFL’s decision to change the Pro Bowl festivities when it returns to Las Vegas in February.

The NFL announced earlier in the week that the Pro Bowl will no longer feature a contact game, but instead will be replaced by a series of competitions throughout the week that end with a flag-football contest. The event was renamed the Pro Bowl Games.

Thompson, a former first-round draft pick from Minnesota, told Fox News Digital in a recent interview that he thought the move made sense.

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Derwin James of the Los Angeles Chargers and AFC salutes after receiving an interception against the NFC during the NFL Pro Bowl at Allegiant Stadium on February 6, 2022 in Las Vegas.
(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

“I think it’s smart. Soccer is a very different (sport). I was talking to a friend of mine who broadcasts for professional basketball. He mentioned it right when he found out and I said, ‘You really can’t play soccer half-heartedly,'” said Thompson, who is now a board member of the Retired Professional Soccer Players Association.

“You can play full-speed basketball, All-Star Game. You can play full-speed, obviously baseball, hockey to a degree. But you just can’t do it in football that way. There has to be a little bit of aggression that’s hard to generate when the game means nothing. You don’t really have time to practice. It’s a different beast. You don’t play football. It just doesn’t work.

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Green Bay Packers' Darrell Thompson in solo action against the Los Angeles Rams.

Green Bay Packers’ Darrell Thompson in solo action against the Los Angeles Rams.
(Tom G. Lynn//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

“That’s what the Pro Bowl has been and you really don’t want to go through somebody or get hurt in a game that … has meaning, but doesn’t have meaning, in your entire career. Obviously you get paid to play in the game and it’s a honor to be selected as a Pro Bowl player. I think it’s a wise thing, it’s a sure thing. Hopefully, they can make it interesting and I think you can.”

In recent years, the Pro Bowl had become an event for fun rather than conference supremacy. At one point, the NFL even abandoned conference matchups altogether, opting instead for a fantasy draft to determine teams.

The new iteration of the event will take place in Las Vegas in February and the flag football game will take place at Allegiant Stadium on February 5.

“The Pro Bowl is something that we’ve been looking at for a while, that really continues to evolve,” NFL executive Peter O’Reilly told The Associated Press on Monday. “After last year’s game, we really made the decision based on a lot of internal conversations, we got feedback from GMs and coaches, we got a lot of feedback from players. We think there’s a real opportunity to do something completely different here and move on.” away from the traditional tackle football game. We decided the goal is to celebrate 88 of the NFL’s biggest stars in a really positive, fun and competitive way.

Darrell Thompson walks the red carpet at the Starkey Hearing Foundation So The World May Hear Gala at the RiverCentre on July 20, 2014, in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Darrell Thompson walks the red carpet at the Starkey Hearing Foundation So The World May Hear Gala at the RiverCentre on July 20, 2014, in St. Paul, Minnesota.
(Adam Bettcher/Getty Images for the Starkey Hearing Foundation)

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“Very direct feedback from guys who had been in the Pro Bowl recently was to keep building the week, make sure you have that multi-day element. It was overwhelmingly positive from both players and clubs.”

Associated Press contributed to this report.



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