Downingtown, PA--Shane Tolliver was just a kid in 1982 when he attended his first Pro Bowl in the 50th state admitted to the Union. In fact, the then ten-year-old can only remember the hard tackling and the giant, tubular waves crashing the pristine Hawaiian beaches. He's been to every Pro Bowl since and has no plans of missing the game in the future.
The Pro Bowl is the N.F.L.'s All-Star game, played in Hawaii since 1980 (except 2010) it showcases the best in the N.F.C. vs. the best in the A.F.C. It will again be played in the Pineapple State this Sunday on one of your television's channels. (I dare you to try and find it.)
Tolliver is from the Philadelphia area but exercises no allegiance to the Eagles or any other N.F.L. team for that matter. He is adamantly and strictly a fan of "just the Pro Bowl."
"It's the best football there is, period," said Tolliver, wearing an autographed Randall Cunningham Pro Bowl jersey from the 1989 game that featured the high-flying quarterback at his best. "I don't watch any regular season or playoff games, they're lame. This is it. The Pro Bowl is what it's all about. To be honest, I don't even really like any other sporting events."
The entire Tolliver family--brothers, sister, kids, grandkids, parents, etc.--are exclusively focused on the Pro Bowl.
"You know how people get geared up for the stupid Super Bowl?" said Tolliver. "Well, that's how I, and my entire family, get for the Pro Bowl. It's the ... all-star ... of, well, you know ... football games."
Tolliver's father started the tradition of all-star games when his father brought him to the 1942 N.F.L. All-Star game in Philadelphia, before it was called the Pro Bowl.
"The storylines are just so compelling," added Tolliver's brother Jim, who is in charge of organizing bets at the Family Pro Bowl party. "You have guys that battled each other all year and now, all the sudden, they're best buds and teammates. It's fantastic theater. This could be on Broadway or, at the very least, Broad Street."
The conference that wins the Pro Bowl gets bragging rights for a year and all the perks that come along with the victory. For example, the Pro Bowl championship trophy (a silver coconut), much like the Stanley Cup, is taken by each player to their home town for two days. The player can do what he pleases, within "reasonable means," and show off the award to family and friends.
"Maybe the best part about the whole Pro Bowl is that the players get to wear their own helmets. I mean, the helmets from their own team. That's just so cool," said 8-year-old Justin Tolliver, Shane's oldest son. "It's neat."
The family also noted that they love the advertisements during the game and often quiet each other in order to hear the 30-seconds spots that company's pay over $5 million for.