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Pro Bowl may be swan song for Kuhn

Steve Heiser
717-505-5446/@ydsports

The Pro Bowl is the worst of all the professional all-star games.

John Kuhn

It's only real drawing card is its site — breathtaking Honolulu.

Other than that, however, the game is nearly unwatchable.

Many of the top players don't show up, claiming injuries, both real and invented.

The players who do show, don't care much about the game. Most are more worried about cashing their Pro Bowl bonus checks.

The contest itself more closely resembles touch football than an actual NFL game.

The poor quality of the product even led NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to consider ending the event completely.

In the end, he didn't, mostly because the game still brings eyeballs to televisions. That's an indicator of just how popular football is in this nation.

This Sunday, however, folks here is York County have legitimately good reason to watch the Pro Bowl.

It may be the John Kuhn's final professional football game.

The Green Bay Packers fullback is making his third Pro Bowl appearance, after also making the game in 2011 and 2014.

You would think that a player with three Pro Bowl appearances in the last five years would be pretty much guaranteed a roster spot for the following season.

You would be wrong.

Kuhn plays a position that has been greatly devalued over the past decade in the pass-happy league. Most teams don't even carry a fullback on their rosters.

Kuhn is also battling the one NFL foe that has never been beaten — Father Time. At age 33, Kuhn is nearly ancient in NFL years.

So Kuhn has no guarantees going into next year. The Packers could join the crowd and give up on the fullback position completely. Or they could decide to use a younger, cheaper version of Kuhn.

There's only one certainty. Kuhn wants to keep playing.

"I would love to be back in Green Bay," Kuhn said in a recent radio interview. "I love my teammates here."

Will the Green Bay front office reciprocate that love?

"I'm not 100 percent sure either way how it's going to go," Kuhn said in the radio interview.

The chances of Kuhn returning appear to be about 50-50, and if the Packers pass on Kuhn, it's unlikely that another team would take a chance on a aging veteran playing a dinosaur position.

So Sunday's game in Honolulu may very well be Kuhn's pro football swan song.

If that is the case, it will mark the closing chapter of a fairy-tale story about an overachiever with underwhelming talent overcoming astronomical odds to fashion a 10-year NFL career.

Kuhn starred at Dover High School, but ended up playing for NCAA Division II Shippensburg University.

He starred again at Shippensburg, but got bypassed in the NFL draft.

He signed as a free agent with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but struggled to make it off their practice squad before finally getting released.

Finally, he latched on with the Packers, where he found his NFL home, excelling as a blocker and special teams player, while getting only occasional touches as a receiver or a runner. He won a Super Bowl in 2011 and became a cult hero among the Green Bay cheeseheads, who chant "Kuhnnnnnn" whenever he gets one of his rare opportunities to carry the ball or catch a pass.

Now it may all be coming to an end on Sunday in Honolulu in a meaningless exhibition.

Kuhn will almost certainly not star in the game. Fullbacks just don't play starring roles, especially in all-star games.

In fact, his playing time will likely be limited.

But Kuhn is expected to play, and folks here in York County should take notice.

It may be the last chance we have to watch one of York County's most unlikely success stories.

Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com.