Extra Points: Pro Bowl jumped the shark before Dalton

(SportsNetwork.com) - When it comes to the Pro Bowl, it's time to tap out.

And pulling the plug on the NFL's All-Star game wouldn't exactly be comparable to Daniel Cormier begging off to Jon Jones on the UFC's biggest stage.

Ending this fruitless exercise would be more like a tree falling in the forest and it's not going to spark any meaningful debate with the dozens and dozens who actually still care about it.

Interestingly it was Andy Dalton's Pro Bowl recognition on Tuesday that set Twitter off as if an average quarterback playing in a meaningless football game is some kind of calamity.

The laughable aspect of Dalton's inclusion to the detractors is the fact that he was the seventh alternate at his particular position, a development that really highlighted the ridiculousness of the process.

Originally, six QBs were named to the Pro Bowl and just two remain from that pool, Andrew Luck and Tony Romo.

Ben Roethlisberger and Peyton Manning were the first to drop out due to injury and top alternate Drew Brees was tabbed to replace "Big Ben." Philip Rivers was next in line to take Peyton's place but the veteran Chargers star begged off due to his own injury.

Third alternate Russell Wilson is busy with Super Bowl business so the fourth option, Detroit's Matthew Stafford, got Manning's spot.

When the Patriots won the AFC Championship Game last Sunday, that took Tom Brady, who was part of the original six, out of the equation and No. 5, Atlanta's Matt Ryan, stepped up.

It was only a matter of time before likely MVP Aaron Rodgers would throw his get-out-of-jail-free card into the middle of the table because of his high- profile calf injury and that domino fell Tuesday, making room for Baltimore's Joe Flacco expect for the fact "January Joe" had no interest because his wife is expecting their third child.

And that's how you end up with the seventh alternate playing quarterback in the Pro Bowl.

I'm expecting my invitation on Saturday.

While Dalton's presence magnifies the nonsense that is the actual game, the real jump-the-shark moment for the Pro Bowl came last year when the NFL pulled the plug on the traditional conference format to cater to the millennial audience with a "fantasy football for real" mentality.

These days players are assigned to two teams through a draft and this year Pro Football Hall of Fame receivers Cris Carter and Michael Irvin are serving as alumni team captains for their Pro Bowl squads -- Team Carter and Team Irvin.

Fellow Hall of Famers and former teammates John Randle (Team Carter) and Darren Woodson (Team Irvin) serve as defensive co-captains and the ex-Vikings and former Cowboys handled the draft process while being assisted by two active player captains and the winner of the NFL's Fantasy Coach of the Year program.

Full disclosure forces me to admit a deep dislike for fantasy football, an activity that's lone contribution to society in my mind is FXX's laugh-out- loud sitcom "The League."

However, it would be disingenuous to say fantasy hasn't proven to be a cash cow for the NFL and everything from the Red Zone channel to rule changes skewed toward the offense have been put in place with an eye on picking the pocket of the short-attention-span crowd.

And from a purely business perspective it's a sound short-term strategy. On an average week, I'll do about a dozen radio hits across the country and the "who should I play this week" people now far outnumber the astute football fans, who are actually invested in the strategy of the game.

Catering to the least common denominator, though, is never the long-term solution because they're moving on quickly and not really invested in the product.

Even fellow fantasy fans have no interest in watching one of their own live out his wet dream while Rich Eisen pretends it's relevant.

Which brings me to my biggest fantasy, halting the goofy game known as the Pro Bowl.