When I was younger, I would look forward to the Pro Bowl. Seeing players like Dion Sanders, Michael Irvin and Joe Montana on the same field intrigued me and from what I can remember, people actually used to watch. It being in Hawaii and signifying the end of the season just felt….right.
Fast forward to the last 10-15yrs…the Pro Bowl has become a toss and catch contest between teams who for the most part don’t really take the game serious and are just out there to converse with their friends and teammates. Now to be fair…can you blame them? I mean what’s the point in going out and playing your hardest when the game is pretty much meaningless. No player (especially a pro bowler) wants to go out and get hurt in any game, let alone a meaningless one such as the pro bowl.
When the MLB faced this issue years ago they came up with an idea to make their All Star game mean something, have ramifications. The end result was home field advantage to the winning side in the World Series. Seemed like a good idea, I mean players who were playing and their team was in the hunt would actually show up to play because it could benefit their team and those guys whose teams weren’t in it may have still slacked off but would be covered up by those who were actually trying.
Now with the NFL, of course you can’t grant home field advantage to the winning side of the pro bowl for a few reasons…one, because the game is played at the end of the season…and two, the Super Bowl is played on a neutral field. The key here is to find a way to make the Pro Bowl meaningful again, get the players actually caring about it and in turn give the NFL fans a great product to watch.
Here is what I suggest the NFL do with the Pro Bowl and just hear me out on this before you blow my mentions up. Play the pro bowl at the beginning of the season (i.e. the hall of fame game). So for example, the players voted to the pro bowl this year would be in the pro bowl game at the beginning of preseason. Now I know what you’re thinking…but thats stupid because it’ll add an extra week to the preseason. NO! We use the Pro Bowl as the “hall of fame” game. Another reason you have it at the beginning is because if you’re like me, you have been suffering the last few months without football, you know those months of February – August. So living through the dark ages without the NFL, you are quick to welcome a preseason game where you get to see your favorite players for what…one maybe two drives and the rest are guys trying to make the team. Why not reward us by giving us big name players who don’t have to play the whole game because, hell they’re ALL big name players.
Ok so I know some folks are reading this and saying “but what if they get hurt, its more chance of them getting hurt” ok…sooooo…them playing the game at the end of the year or beginning of the year will increase their chances of getting hurt?? Give me a break!! Most of these guys play in preseason games anyways, even if it is for one drive or so. They can get hurt at anytime so miss me with all that. Ok so we’ve solved the issue of getting people to tune in and be interested, now how to make the players get into and give us a good game to watch. The winning side (AFC/NFC) those player’s teams will get either one extra challenge a game without having to win two first or get to kick their extra points from the 2yd line like before. The winning side, those coaches from those teams will have to have a majority vote. Once the vote is made it cannot be changed for the season. The choice will last only during the regular season.
I think this will force players to take the game a little more seriously and in turn will give us a good show. Let me know what you all think.