The Pro Bowl: A Mockery of the NFL

The NFL is the most successful and popular sports league in America. The toughest level of football in the world. It’s championship game has become an unofficial holiday and annually becomes the most watched event in the United States and the second most watched event worldwide behind the UEFA Champions Final.

With such success, you would think that the NFL would have the most entertaining, physical, thrilling, edge of your seat, heart pounding all-star game every year. However, the NFL struggles to keep up any respect for their version of an all-star game. The Pro Bowl should be renamed the Boring Bowl.

It’s no secret that the NFL is trying to create mass television ratings during the Pro Bowl, which then turns into more money for the league. As most NFL players have already figured out, it’s simply not worth it to actually play hard in a game that doesn’t matter.

Sure, the NFL offers money to whomever plays in the game. $50,000 to each player on the winning team and $25,000 for each player on the losing team. While that seems like a ton of money to most NFL fans, it’s merely chump change for the professional football players. For example, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning will be making his 13th Pro Bowl appearance, but if he wins he’ll be earning a small 1/360th fraction of his $18,000,000 dollar salary for the 2012-2013 season.

Want the players to play hard? Pay them more money. The NFL should stop pretending that they don’t have adequate funds for this event. If they want it to become a prime time television show, attract millions of viewers, and become the envy of every other professional league, they need to shell out the big bucks to the big time athletes.

If they can get the money problem figured out, then they need to start working on their scheduling. Really, a week before the Super Bowl? Isn’t this supposed to be a game played by the best of the best? Doesn’t anyone in the NFL realize that if you have this game before the Super Bowl, you’re automatically kicking players from the two best teams out of the game. It makes absolutely no sense.

For this years upcoming Pro Bowl, there are 15 players who will not be playing due to the Super Bowl. FIFTEEN!

Overall this year 29 players have declined to take part for various reasons. The most common, however, are prior injuries and fear of injuries.

Wait a minute, fear of injuries?

Didn’t the league change the entire rules of the Pro Bowl game to make it “safer”? Yes, in fact, they altered major rules in order to make it as safe as can be.

For example, there can be no motion or shifting on the offense prior to the snap. That means Peyton Manning won’t be able to change-up the play by yelling at an audible which is his trademark.

An offense must have a tight end in every offensive formation. The point of this rule? I can only think of taking speed off on the offensive side by replacing a possible wide receiver with a tight end.

The offense can’t have three wide receivers on the same side. Really? Why not? Too much confusion for the defense?

Intentional grounding is legal. Oh great, this must be popular with defenders. Whenever they get close to a sack, the quarterback can simply throw the ball away whenever he wants.

The defense must run a 4-3 formation all the time. The game has evolved with the majority of defenses running a 3-4. Which means that the majority of defenders in the Pro Bowl, aren’t even running in the same foundation that they have to play in.

No press coverage unless they’re inside the 5 yard line. Completely takes away a critical component for many elite cornerbacks who rely on tight coverage to make their plays.

No rushing a punt, field goal attempt or point after touchdown. Why not just automatically give teams 7 points for every touchdown then and 3 points every time they get inside the 30 yard line?

No calls can be challenged. They must have too much confidence in their referees or are telling coaches, “This isn’t a real game.”

And my personal favorite, no rushing allowed. That’s right Von Miller, you can’t rush the quarterback, ever. No blitzing from players not on the defensive line.

My backyard pick up football games had better rules than this. And frankly, I’d much rather play football in my backyard with some friends than watch an hour of this garbage that is being broadcast.

There is hope, however. The Pro Bowl can bring back the famous NFL Skills Competition that they once had up until 2007. It was fun as a fan to see who was the fastest man in the NFL as they would all race down the field or to see which linemen could lift the most. Watching the kickers play HORSE on the field was even entertaining!

The possibilities for these events could be endless. You could find out which wide receiver has the best hands, which quarterback has the strongest arm, which quarterback has the best accuracy, which defensive player can hit the hardest, etc.

Now THAT would be entertaining to watch. The bragging rights because of this would be endless. Can you imagine seeing a player such as Brandon Marshall of the Chicago Bears tweeting after being named “Best Hands of 2013″.

Why stop there? If the NFL wants to make money they might as well work in some press in other countries as well.

I’m talking about expansion. Hawaii is a nice vacation for most NFL players, but imagine if the Pro Bowl was held in France, Italy, England, Germany, etc. It would be a positive change for most players and the fanfare globally would increase exponentially! It’s a win-win for a league which is currently dealing with a lose-lose.

The Pro Bowl once stood for “Professional Bowl.” Now it disgracefully means “Promotional Bowl.”

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