There was a time where calling yourself a ‘probowler’ meant something. It meant you were one of the leagues elite, and earned a spot to represent your team with a first class trip to Honolulu (the best part).
Here’s the problem, nobody cares. Even stars such as Aaron Rodgers have suggested perhaps it’s time to axe the NFL all-star game.
So what went wrong? Is there anything the NFL can do to make the game more appealing? Lets take a look…
Part one of the problem is essentially playing defense isn’t allowed. No, seriously, teams aren’t allowed to blitz, and there are certain defensive formations the conference teams aren’t allowed to utilize. Obviously put in place for injury reasons, but it makes the game about as interesting as watching paint dry.
The game has essentially just turned into the conferences taking turns playing catch. No one runs the ball, no one covers the wideouts, no one blitzes the quarterback.
So why are they out there again? Oh, right, because they’re ‘all stars,’ and for some reason there’s some unwritten rule that says in professional sports, all-star selections must play in a game with other all-stars for fans amusement.
Ok, I appreciate the admiration the NFL is taking by following this so called tradition, but they need to take something into consideration… Fans aren’t amused.
NFL pro bowl ratings continue to plummet, players are no longer interested in participating in the game itself, but make the trip to, again, honor ‘tradition’.
If an abysmal setup such as this isnt enough, the NFL moved the pro bowl to be played before the Superbowl (as of a few years ago). Why is this a big deal? Well, every selection that is actually playing in the game that actually matters a week later, is filled by a replacement instead. So what we’ve seen the last few years is ‘B’ and ‘C’ list stars grabbing a last minute spot.
So is this really an all-star game at this point? It’s more like an attempt to keep unwarranted tradition alive at the mercy of fans, and its’ players.
So what can the NFL do? We have a few suggestions.
A. Skills Competition
– Forget the ridiculous setup of a no defensive, no ground game pro bowl. Create different skills competitions, hire sponsors, and make a fun afternoon of mini skills competitions.
B. Just Name ‘All-Pros’ (Don’t Play The Game)
– This is the ideal scenario. Name the ‘pro-bowlers,’ but dont play the game. This way, the players that deserve it still get recognition, and have the ‘Pro Bowl’ tag on their resume. Doing this would also put a little more meaning back into ‘pro bowler,’ as you wouldn’t see ‘B’ or ‘C’ list replacements. Not to mention, you aren’t penalized because your team made the Superbowl.
C. Flag Football Game(s)
– The setup of the game is to obviously prevent injury, and that makes sense. So let’s not pretend an actual game is being played, and just embrace the idea of a flag football game(s). The NFL could set this up in numerous ways, AFC v NFC; maybe a mini 5v5 tournament represented by divisions, or have fans select team captains. Fans would embrace the game, understanding what they are getting, rather than being told they are getting a football game with all-stars, they are getting a flag football game, and should adjust their expectations accordingly.
In all honesty, the NFL is not a league where an ‘all-star’ game is necessary. Just name the ‘all-pros’ at the end of the regular season, and be done with it. Currently the NFL is following the unwritten of a physical all-star game being played, but it continues further enforce it is a waste of time.