Kansas City Chiefs: 4 Headlines From The 2015 Pro Bowl

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Houston Stays Anchored On The Sideline

January 23, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Kansas City Chiefs players Team Carter linebacker Tamba Hali (91), Team Carter defensive tackle Dontari Poe (92), Team Carter running back Jamaal Charles (25), and Team Carter linebacker Justin Houston (50) during photo day at The Arizona Biltmore. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Houston didn’t participate in a single snap on Sunday, which has already led to a wave of speculation.

Houston might be telling the truth, but I wouldn’t bank on it.

Here’s the thing: A number of people will deem Houston selfish for taking the invite but not playing. However, those same people tend to overlook the other side of the story.

For starters, Kansas City’s All-Pro has skyrocketed to the club’s No. 4 all-time sack leader in just four seasons of play. And within each of said seasons, he has been paid less than his team’s punter.

Moving forward, Houston just wants some sense of security. And now that the ball is in his court, he’s not going to risk his health—and in essence, his leverage—for a meaningless exhibition game.

Some will argue that injuries rarely occur in the Pro Bowl, and relatively speaking, they’re right. However, “rarely” means that there are exceptions.

Drew Brees, for example, dislocated his elbow in 2007. In a separate instance, Robert Edwards tore all four major knee ligaments (ACL, MCL, PCL and LCL)—which nearly ended in amputation—in an NFL-sanctioned flag football game, requiring three years of rehabilitation and effectively ending the former first-rounder’s career after just one season.

If we’re talking selfishness, look no further than the league’s CBA. To demonstrate just how shady the sport can be, here is Over the Cap’s Jason Fitzgerald explaining escalator clauses:

"With an escalator the team does not lose their financial control. An escalator, if earned, simply becomes a raise for the following year. In most cases it is not guaranteed. So from a players perspective they work hard in a prior year to meet a goal but there may be no payoff. In this case most teams will say “there is no chance they can do that again” and because the escalator is not guaranteed will either cut the player or force a paycut."

In other words, not only are players cut for poor performance, they’re cut— without receiving the raise that they’ve earned—for exceeding expectations.

So if Houston doesn’t want to gamble away his leverage? More power to him.

Next: Chiefs: A Closer Look At 3 1st-Round Targets

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