The NFL Pro Bowl has the potential to be a very special event for players and fans. But instead, it is almost unbearable to watch if you’re not seeing it live.
There is not one single shred of competitiveness in this game and it turns out that football is not that entertaining without it. I understand that players want to avoid injury in a game that has no positive impact with a win or loss, but there needs to be some kind of incentive for the players involved to make the whole event is actually worth it. Even the competitions they have during the week leading up to the game are so basic and have zero thought put into them, to the point where it looks like a summer camp for millionaire athletes. The players take part in obstacle course races and games of dodgeball. Really? Dodgeball?
But what can be done to fix it?
Since 2000, the Pro Bowl has averaged 8.6 million TV viewers according to statista.com. To put that in perspective, the average 1:00 game has an average of 13.3 million viewers according to sportsmediawatch.com. But these are numbers for individual games when there are multiple other games on and are regionally televised. Now I know 8.6 million viewers looks like a good number, but the majority of people who watched the Pro Bowl walk away from it unsatisfied. It is no secret that this is just a money grab event for the league. But there is zero effort or creativity put into making this event happen. There are players playing wrong positions, defensive lineman not even trying, and it is just a contest to see who can care less out on the field.
Just take a look at this play and keep in mind that these are the best players in the league at their positions.
— Jason Hewitt (@JasonHewitt50) January 27, 2019
The hardest hit of the entire week was when Jets safety Jamal Adams tackled the Patriots’ mascot.
I believe it can be turned around though. In the week leading up to the Pro Bowl, they need to change these events and make it interesting for fans and players. They should draft teams for a 7-on-7 tournament that goes on throughout the week and each team should have to draft a certain number of lineman to make it more interesting. I would rather watch 300-pound lineman play 7-on-7 football instead of a dodgeball tournament in a heartbeat.
Now for the game itself, it needs to be incentivized enough to make the players actually motivated to compete in the game. As currently constructed, the players of the winning team each win $8,000 on top of the $59,oo0 they make for just playing in the Pro Bowl. I can’t speak for sure, but I’m willing to bet that none of the players involved are losing sleep over $8,000. Players at the high school and college level play extra games at the end of the year like the All-American game and the Senior Bowl to get more exposure and make it to the NFL. So the NFL needs to make it a point to make the players want to win the game. Each year the Pro Bowl has an opportunity to be something special and meaningful for everybody involved, and each year that opportunity is wasted. I think I speak for all NFL fans when I say the league can do much better.