Last weekend, I urged myself to actually watch the Pro Bowl just to see if it had improved. A new venue, new players, and more controversy made me believe that this might be a good use of 3 hours on a Sunday night. I was wrong. I did not expect to see a lack of determination, lack of defense, and meaning which are three things that make football great. The Pro Bowl was moved out of Hawaii to attract fans, but that plan is definitely not going to work the way football was played out there. The NFL Pro Bowl needs to have a major face lift, and here's why and how it can happen.
First off, let me start by saying that moving the game to a bigger venue and before the Super Bowl was not one of Roger Goodell's brightest ideas. The stadium looked about half full, with lack of diehard fans or crowd support for the players. One of football's best aspects is seeing a crowd change the game and switch the momentum. I know this might be hard to do at an All-Star game, but Hawaiian fans who never see live games were much better at supporting the players than the fans last night. Plus, one of the coolest concepts of the previous Pro Bowls was seeing the players in hats and swimsuits in the sun, instead of running around in the pouring rain. The Pro Bowl used to be somewhat attractive because it was after the Super Bowl and gave us eager football fans something to tune into to ease the pain of the end of the season, yet now it's just kind of a waste of time and knocks out the players of the two best teams in the NFL. How can the AFC play in the Pro Bowl without the three best QB's in the Conference. No one wants to play, or can't play, so why should we watch.
Another problem with the Pro Bowl is the pointless 11 players on Defense. The whole job of the D in the season is to make big hits, get sacks, and make strong tackles, yet since nobody wants to hurt anyone, all we end up with is the Defense just trying to slap the ball-carrier down. I don't know about anyone else, but I don't really want to see Desean Jackson run 60 yards for a touchdown, when he could have been tackled at the line of scrimmage. If the defense can't do the things that make their job special, why do they even come to the Pro Bowl? Before it might have been to come to Hawaii, but now it's just another game to possibly get hurt in. If you want the defense to start trying, make the game have some meaning.
Due to the lack of purpose, the defense doesn't try, making the Pro Bowl, not a real football game and meaningless. In the MLB, the game decides the World Series' home field advantage, in the NBA, they have the Dunk Contest, three point contest, and even the game of HORSE is more interesting than the Pro Bowl. If the NFL wants to raise the attendance and amount of viewers, don't move the game out of Hawaii or before the Super Bowl, just make it have meaning or attractive mini-games. Moving the game mid-season like the MLB would be controversial because no one would want to get hurt, which comes back to the problem that no one would try, but if the NFL adds in some side competitions, it might make us fans want to actually watch the Pro Bowl. The NBA All-Star game is popular mainly because of guys like Dwight Howard and Nate Robinson who make a scene and do things that aren't seen in our daily lives. I'm not saying the Pro Bowl should have a Kicking Contest or anything, I'm just saying the NFL has a lot of characters too who could play in some mini-game that would make this weekend worth watching.
Roger Goodell and the NFL have probably already realized that they messed up by moving the Pro Bowl before the Super Bowl, and to Miami. Don't criticize their actions, just think about what they could do better and what you would want to see. A definite move to Hawaii and change of date would be necessary to increase attendance and viewers, but that would just make the game like it was before, which clearly is not good enough. If the NFL can go the extra mile and make this game meaningful and exciting, then the Pro Bowl might actually be worth watching in the future. The Pro Bowl right now is a meaningless game, but with some work, it might become a classic football pastime in the eyes of fans.
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