Image Credit: (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)
Written by: Nicholas Mullick Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicholas-mullick-354076184/
While I have had great moments watching the Superbowl, we have to admit that this change was long overdue. The Pro Bowl game for at least a decade has not been what it was. The play was terrible and the viewership ratings of the games were very low. Compared to how other leagues handled there all-star games it was a big embarrassment for the league. The NFL was completely desperate to keep the games gowing using gimmicks to keep the games going.
These gimmicks were just insanity at awesome points. First came in the 2013 NFL Pro Bowl where they decided to switch to a "fantasy draft" format rather than an AFC vs NFC game format. Which seems like a good idea on paper, but it just did not work. It probably did not help that they had NFL hall of famers like Jerry Rice, Deion Sanders, Cris Carter, Michael Irvin make decisions in the draft and made strange draft decisions. Mainly just to get attention about the pro bowl, but it obviously did not work as the whole thing got abandoned.
The one gimmick that they did that really worked was the competitions that they held during the week leading up to the pro bowl. It was the most exciting part of the Pro Bowl and I was more intined watching these competitions, then I was watching the pro bowl. Too me my favorite ones are the catching competitions and the precision passing accuracy challenge. One thing I have to say is these obstacle course competitions or the Gridiron Gauntlet have got to go as they are just sloppy and too cheesy for me.
I think the moment to me that really sealed the Pro Bowl’s fate is when the NFL no longer hosted the games in Hawaii. That told me that the NFL had given up on the Pro Bowl. It also marked the moment where players were more avoided being a part of it now as the only reason why most went in years prior, because Hawaii is a top location that many want to travel to. I mean think about it, the players were getting paid to go there perform and have a vacation as well. Who would not want to take that offer. Once that got taken away, what true reason was it for players to even go. I mean yeah it is a free payday, but going to Hawaii is more attractive than Orlando, Arizona and Las Vegas. If it was 5 years ago when there was no team in Vegas, maybe it would have worked but it was too late. I am shocked that the NFL did not try to do the pro bowl game internationally as that would have been a great way to market the league.
What also killed the Pro Bowl is the increase of awareness from players regarding injuries. It started around the time RB Robert Edwards suffered a severe injury at the pro bowl, and it was so bad he almost had to amputate his leg. Once that happened many had the option to decline the invitation as they did not want to suffer a serious injury in a meaningless game that would hurt their careers. The declining of invitations were there for many years and it got really bad at the 2016 Pro Bowl where so many declined the invitation. I swear it has to be around 120 people who either declined or played in the superbowl.
So, the question is with the Pro Bowl games now over what will the NFL be doing to replace them? Well the focus will be more on the competitions like what they have been doing but what they will also do is a flag football game. If you don’t know what flag football is players don’t wear pads and instead of tackling players, a defense must remove flags from whoever has the ball thus resulting in the down being over. It’s basically normal football with not tackling, burt removal of flags. I think this is a good idea as in the last Pro Bowl game they were doing two hand touch and it was just so freaking boring and pointless. I think that this will work more and this new version of the Pro Bowl, might make it more interesting in the marketplace, especially now it is with flag football. It will be interesting to see how it turns out for the NFL.