Let’s be honest: the NFL’s Pro Bowl sucks.
I say this, yet I haven’t watched it in years. There’s something overly anti-climatic about the game, so it was good that it was moved into the intervening week between the Conference Finals and the Super Bowl. But that doesn’t really do it, does it?
It’s still a bunch of players who are beat to crap after a 20 game season trying to put on a decent show but not getting hurt. And that’s the guys who come to the game – a lot of players who are selected don’t bother with it. Can you blame them? Who wants to get hurt in a meaningless exhibition game, and miss important team tasks such as OTAs, workouts and mini-camps throughout the offseason?
There’s some call to eliminate the game altogether, and just honor the players with selections. The Arena Football League does that, and it works well for them. But let’s be honest again: there’s no way the NFL is going to give up a chance to sell ads on the airwaves.
So why not make it a series of events instead? First off, bring back the skills challenge. This is huge in other sports, and is often cited as an example of the Pro Bowl’s “suckiness”. Then maybe it’s time to make the game two hand touch or flag football – when I have watched the game, it’s not full of the big hitting action we’ve seen throughout the season (and justifiably so), so let’s stop pretending. Maybe even a tournament style series of short flag football games for the “skill” players, with strong man-type competitions for the linemen.
The point is – there’s a way to make this better that doesn’t involve pretending that this is an actual NFL game. And probably win back some fans in the process.