**This article was written in 2017 and is just being re-released**
The NFL Pro Bowl is broken. The game is unwatchable for the fans because the level of play on the field is horrible. The players don’t want to play in it because they just went through a long season and would like to recover from all their injuries and disappointment on not making it to next week’s game, the Super Bowl. With so many players “opting out” due to injuries, the players that end up actually playing in the game are second or third alternates that shouldn’t be given the distinction of a “Pro-Bowl” player.
The NFL has tried many times to fix the Pro Bowl. Some of the changes included moving the game to the week before the Super Bowl instead of the week after. This is the lesser of two evils, but with all the players from the two Super Bowl teams not playing in the game, it doesn’t feel like the best players are actually represented. So while having it the week before may help TV ratings, it doesn’t help the product to be any more watchable.
The NFL also tried creating a “pick-up” style Pro Bowl where two former players would have a “draft” and pick players regardless of whether they played for the NFC or the AFC. They tried to milk some more ratings by televising the selection process. I wasn’t “for” or “against” this idea, but it must not have been something the NFL thought wasn’t working because they did away with it.
The Pro Bowl was something I used to look forward to when I was a kid. I mean, how could watching a game with every great player playing in the game be a bad thing? Now that I’m older and can recognize the lack of effort, I don’t believe I’ve even watched the last three Pro Bowls — maybe more.
So what can the NFL do to fix it? Well, I have an idea…
Move the Pro Bowl to the Hall of Fame game, the first preseason game of the year.
I don’t think there is any way in hell the NFL would actually go for this, but it would be the best thing they could do if they insist on having a Pro Bowl game. Think about it, by that time in the summer we, as fans, are so anxious to watch football we actually get excited for the Hall of Fame game in which we probably couldn’t name more than three players that actually end up playing in this meaningless game.
Would moving it improve the level of play? Probably not, but at that point do we even care? We just want to see some football, and what would be better than an All-Star game? Not-to-mention we would have a game played with future Hall of Famers on a weekend that we are inducting real Hall of Famers. The city of Cleveland, where the Pro Bowl would now be played, would have a who’s who of both current and former NFL superstars.
I know there are risks involved with player injuries and the risks would be higher for teams that have multiple Pro Bowl players, but maybe the NFL could increase the roster size so that each player is playing less? Then there is the unavoidable fact that some players may have changed teams in the offseason and what helmet do they wear, and some players may have retired after the season, etc.
Sure, there are a lot of logistics that would have to be worked out. Ones that are above my pay grade to figure out, but as a fan of the NFL I would love for every NFL preseason to be kicked off with an All-Star game. Wouldn’t you?
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