It’s officially time to do away with the Pro-Bowl, although an argument can be made it was time to get rid of it a long time ago. It’s an impressive accolade to add to any NFL resume, but is the exhibition game really worth it? To me personally, I can’t remember a time where I set time aside to tune into the annual game. Although I vote and hope my favorite players get in, I don’t want them to actually play in the game.
The sport of football is always one catastrophic play away from ending a player’s career even during a meaningless post-season scrimmage. I tried to recall from my own memory of a time when a player actually got hurt in the game but the only injury that was vaguely surfacing my memory bank was a running back who got hurt during a beach flag football game. After some systematic research, I found out this was Robert Edwards who struggled with injuries during his college career and after his freak accident during the event avoided having his leg amputated.
Then I remember that more recently Tyler Eifert (who I had high fantasy football hopes for), was hurt in last year’s game after being overthrown be Jamies Winston. Eifert vowed “to never play in the game again” dismissing the honor and protecting his football health.
Many players pass on the free trip to Hawa… Orlando and claim that their regular season injuries will hinder their on-field performance. Which means the game is filled with back-ups and reserves for some of the league’s stars. But not hope is lost for the Pro-Bowl.
I believe the NFL can turn the pro-bowl strictly into a skills challenge and save some grace. Pitting some of the AFC and NFC’s best players against each other can work for the irrelevant game. The success of the NBA’s All-Star Saturday Night should be the model for the NFL. Imagine if you had Odell Beckham Jr racing against Josh Norman for the title of league’s fastest player? Or a strength and ability contest against Taylor Lewan and Trent Williams?
There are plenty of ways we can increase the marketability and excitement about the Pro Bowl.
The NFL has been testing the market of overseas fan bases by taking games to England and I believe the NFL All-Star game could be a great stopping point. Instead of sending the Jaguars and Dolphins across the pound, perhaps we send the best of NFC and AFC.
The only enigma about the Pro-Bowl would be that fans continue to watch. Last year the Pro Bowl pulled in 11.7 viewers, more than Game 7 of the NBA Finals which had 11.6 million viewers. Rodger Goodell has even spoken about taking measures in order to protect the quality of the game in which there is nothing at stake and protecting the player’s interest.
The NFL might not need to make changes immediately as the viewership is there, but the game is overall flat and uninteresting especially amongst the NFL Elite.