(Photo Courtesy of Miamidolphins.com)
This past weekend there was no football on at all except for one single football game that starred the best players in the world. Guess what? Nobody cared! Yes in this Football obsessed country the week before the Super Bowl and nobody cared about the Pro Bowl, why is that? How can you expect the fans to care if the players don’t? 37 players decided not to attend the game, sure some of those could not play because they are playing in the Super Bowl next week and I’m sure others don’t want to risk injury. So can the NFL do anything to get all the top players to play? First, let’s look at the reasons players may not want to play.
Injuries- This is number one even though the Pro Bowl is not the most physical games injuries still do happen. A great example is last year’s game when Bengals Pro Bowl Tight End Tyler Eifert hurt his ankle in the game and ended up missing the first six games of the 2017 season. Let’s face it after a long season guys are banged up and don’t want to play another game, plus when a player is risking his health for a possibly $60,000 if they win, is it even worth the risk?
Money- Most of these players are making millions why do they want to play for $60,000 at the most? Now, this is somewhere the NFL could get players to want to play, jump it to $200 grand to the winning team and maybe $100 grand for the losers. Would the NFL do that? Probably not. Look at it this way the players who built this multi-billion dollar industry years ago are lucky to get $1,000 a month as a pension, and they have to sue to get the NFL to take care of them when the problems from playing a lifetime of Football begin to set in.
Hawaii- Come on if the game is in Hawaii players may be willing to go there for a vacation after the season, but playing in the states is not as big a deal as the free trip to Hawaii.
Now out of the three problems named above two of the three are easily fixable, the first one, though, the injury situation is not. Over the last few years the NFL has tried to do a few things different, how did that turn out? Let’s take a look?
No more AFC vs.NFC- This was a horrible idea that finally died out. You had guys like Deion Sanders and Michael Irvin pick the teams and supposedly coach the teams. I don’t know about you guys, but I see no reason to watch these guys pick a team and the act like they are coaching a team. It just looked like a good promo for the NFL Network though with two guys that are already so full of themselves they are unbearable to watch already. Watching Neon Deion and The Playmaker coach was about as fun as watching Jeff Fisher trying to turn the Rams around.
Skills Competition- I thought when I first heard this that it was a good idea, but of course, the NFL turned a good idea into a bad one. The NBA has an all-star Saturday night with a three-point competition and a Dunk contest; the MLB has the Home Run Derby, both shown live the day before the all-star game. So how could the NFL screw this up? Will they did it on Thursday a few days before the game and then to top it all off they didn’t even show it complete on the Saturday Night before the game, the NFL in all their brilliance broadcasted it in the afternoon before a pre-game show. If the NFL wants to do it right, have on Saturday night the day before the Pro Bowl and show it live.
Football is a dangerous sport, for that simple reason the game should not be played. The risk does not justify the reward; I don’t want to watch defensive players sack the Quarterback by running up and hugging him. Now I don’t want to see the Quarterback get obliterated in a meaningless game either, So how about this as a compromise? Have a Super Bowl Saturday night where you have the skills competition for the Pro Bowl players, make it AFC vs. NFC winning team players get $60,000 each, losers get $30,000 each. In the end, the NFL needs to stop putting players at risk in a game nobody cares about, the Pro Bowl was a great game in the 1960’s when players worked off-season jobs to make ends meet, but that is not the case anymore, it’s just not worth it.