Is there an easy fix for the Pro Bowl?
All day long people were asking me if I saw the Pro Bowl on Sunday. The answer for me is always no. I spent a good chunk of Sunday evening watching "Scrubs" and college basketball. For those who saw it the reaction was something like "I gotta say, it was pretty lousy."
How can the NFL, which does just about everything right, get its all-star game so wrong? Well to begin with the players have never cared much about the Pro Bowl and it shows. So why should the fans care? I've argued in the past that preseason football carries more meaning because number one, preseason games are played by the regular rules. Number two, there are roster spots on the line so at least there's something at stake.
The timing of the game is awful as well. Obviously no players on a Super Bowl roster will play in the Pro Bowl so that usually eliminates more than a handful of guys. Then there are players from the non-playoff teams who haven't played competitively in a month. How fired up do you think they are for an exhibition game? But if not right before or right after the Super Bowl, when could the game be played? The NFL doesn't have the luxury of giving every team nearly a week off like the other three professional leagues.
To be honest, the only way to fix the Pro Bowl is to eliminate it. Seriously, does it serve any purpose other than to fill the NFL coffers? With rules designed to protect everybody from being hit at all the game doesn't look anything like an actual football game. And the scheduling will always make it sub par. Players will drop out due to injury or Super Bowl commitment (you realize Pro Bowl alternate Willis McGahee scored five touchdowns this year, right? Another alternate, Ryan Mathews, scored six.) So why don't don't we let this exhibition ride off into the Hawaiian sunset because the only easy fix is to wipe out the game.