I’m sitting at home watching the Pro Bowl, and the thoughts coming to mind I’m sure are heard in living rooms and craniums throughout North America: “Boy this is awful.” The NFL Pro Bowl has gone from a very entertaining and even competitive game to a lackluster bore-fest just over the past few years. The issues are numerous. The players give little-to-no effort because they’re “afraid” of getting injured. Just tonight, the effort was so poor on a run play featuring LeSean McCoy and Aaron Rodgers that the fans in attendance booed. Nobody tries to block an extra point. The players literally just stand up straight and put a hand up. The pass rushers play patty cake with the offensive linemen. Barely anybody runs at full speed.
Another issue is the fact that players from the two best teams are not playing in the NFL’s “all-star” game. Because the Pro Bowl is now before and not after the Super Bowl, the two teams in the Super Bowl so not send their representatives to the Pro Bowl. This year, eight Patriots who were supposed to go to the Pro Bowl are not. That’s eight players who are “second best” playing in the “all-star” game. I’m not complaining that the Pats are in the Super Bowl, but why can’t we have both?
So the question is, how do we fix this mockery of a professional football game? The first and easiest fix to implement is putting the Pro Bowl back to its original time after the Super Bowl. This way, we could see the players from the two Super Bowl teams playing. I would not remove the game from Hawaii like the league did one year. Having it in Hawaii is a tradition and is a nice location, not to mention it’s a state that would see no live NFL games otherwise. I know that’s also the case for other states, but are other states located in such a “perfect” climate?
The next problem to tackle is increasing the competitiveness and effort from the players in the game. This is a tough yard to gain, because the difference in paychecks between the winners and losers is chump change to these millionaires. The game has to carry some kind of weight. Baseball did a great job of this in their All-Star game by giving the winning conference home field advantage in the World Series. Here are a few ideas:
- The teams in the winning conference get 9 home games while the teams in the losing conference get 7 home games. This is not very likely to happen because of the monetary loss for the owners of the losing conference, but it would be a heck of a motivator, no? The interconference games the teams play would be where the extra home/away games would come from.
- The winning conference gets to be the home team in the Super Bowl and automatically wins the coin toss. I don’t know if this is enough to motivate but it’s something, no?
- The winning conference automatically gets the ball first on offense if any interconference games go into overtime during the following regular season. This could very well be the difference in wins and losses in the regular season.
- Pro Bowl stats bonuses. Players get extra cash for sacks, receptions, yards, completions, touchdowns, interceptions, whatever.