The Pro Bowl has become a joke as players treated it as such. They loved the free week in Hawaii and who could blame them. But the fear of injury and now the fact that so many “first team” Pro Bowlers were playing in the Super Bowl and could not participate, the game held no meaning except to cause injury.
Now the Commissioner and/or his Committee has come up with all these new Pro Bowl Rules, running clock, no punt returns, no kick-offs, choose teams like fantasy league. All these changes may either offer fewer injury chances or draw a few more fans but it does not address the real problem. Fans watch this game no matter what. It continues to get good ratings despite its failings. The season is coming to a close and fans are dreading the clock at the Super Bowl reaching 00:00.
In 2012, the Pro Bowl brought in 12.5 million viewers. It was the lowest rated NFL game of the year, but compare it to other sports. Only 15.5 million people watch the Giants win the World Series in 2012.
The audience is there, and they truly care and want to enjoy the Pro Bowl, but these changes aren’t helping this be a competitive event.
They still don’t put the 8-12 players that should be in it, but are playing in the Super Bowl, and it still will be played like an exhibition game or worse. At least in a pre-season game there ARE players going all out that are trying to make the team. There’s a hunger there. The starters are set, but there are 70 others vying for the remaining spots on the roster. Even with these changes by the NFL, the players still won’t tackle or play hard. And special teams players are eliminated. The Pro Bowl will continue to be two hand touch. I never mind trying new ideas but this is no way solves the real problem.
Football doesn’t lend itself to exhibition like basketball or baseball. It’s a physical, violent sport and injuries occur. In fact how many non-contact injuries are we seeing already in OTAs and camp! It’s part of the risk of playing football but I think this will be the weirdest Pro Bowl game ever.
What makes football so special is that each down is life and death. Nobody just goes to the park, puts on pads and plays football for fun. It’s a serious game and there is nothing more demoralizing than seeing these great athletes cease to be what they are 99% of the time: Ruthlessly competitive.