The Pro Bowl, the NFL’s version of an All-Star game, will be on tonight on ESPN at 7PM ET. You won’t be watching it and you really shouldn’t be. It’s really just a huge joke now. Not even the players care, why should any of the fans?
The Pro Bowl is the equivalent to other league’s All-Star games. The best players in the league are chosen and then play in a meaningless exhibition. Every major sports league does it. The NBA just announced the rosters for theirs. We’ve even written about MLB’s game before. What makes the NFL’s game so different? Why is it such a spectacular failure? There’s a few reasons.
The Game is at the End of the Year
The Pro Bowl is the only All-Star game that doesn’t take place during the season. It now takes place the week before the Super Bowl but for years it occurred the week after. Either way, the season is over for the vast majority of teams. How would I get excited for the Pro Bowl if I’m a fan of the Patriots or Cardinals. I just saw my team get knocked out. I don’t want to watch the silliness of an exhibition game after that.
Football is a Physical Game, the Pro Bowl is Not
Football is a grueling, physical game. It’s the reason they only play once a week. In the Pro Bowl, no one wants to get hurt so no one tries very hard. The line positions typically require maximum physical exertion on every play. The game is completely different when those guys are going half speed.
No One Plays
No player from the Super Bowl participants can play in the game so right away you’re limiting the pool of talent. Then there’s all the players who had been playing with some injury who drop out, which is nearly everybody. Then there’s players who just elect not to go. Philip Rivers was chosen as a replacement but he simply declined the invite. He had better things to do.
The quarterback situation is a huge mess. I think Charlie Whitehurst is set to start for the AFC. The NFC had to talk Brett Favre out of retirement to find someone to play. In all seriousness, the quarterbacks who will be playing tonight aren’t the most deserving. The six quarterbacks playing are Russell Wilson, Eli Manning, Derek Carr, Tyrod Taylor, Jameis Winston, and Teddy Bridgewater. If there’s anything to take away from that group there it’s that black guys aren’t going to pass up a trip to Hawaii.
How Do We Fix This?
Some people think the NFL should force players to go or that they should just cancel the game altogether. I think they should just turn it into a flag football game. Still select players from every position, but let everyone play both ways.
The lineman would love the opportunity to go out catch passes. Wouldn’t you love to see Clay Matthews at quarterback. He could throw to Calais Campbell who’s being covered by Nick Mangold. I’m still not sure I’d watch but it would be a lot more fun for the players.