Thursday, May 31, 2012

REAL TALK: You're Not Fooling Me

Cam Newton at the 2012 Pro Bowl
“The players have made it clear...that they would like the opportunity to continue to play the Pro Bowl in Hawaii,” claims NFL Executive VP of Football Operations Ray Anderson in a joint press release yesterday. Well, they're not fooling me...I'm not buying itThe players, the league, the executives can all say whatever they want, but actions speak louder than words...and the action or lack thereof in the Pro Bowl, says otherwise.

Every February the Super Bowl showcases players' undeniable passion and desire to win. Beloved in the hearts of many, the Super Bowl has emblazoned itself upon American culture. It has served as the perfect ending to every NFL season since 1967. Though, as of more recent years, that ending was spoiled a week later by a lackluster All-star game. (holding the Pro Bowl the week prior this past season didn’t seem to do much…other than get it out of the way sooner)

As an avid supporter of professional football, I’m more indulged than most. But if even the biggest sports enthusiasts struggle to watch the Pro Bowl, what about casual fans? Describing the play as lackluster is putting it nicely. The game is boring and the play is nonchalant at best. It doesn’t take much to see just how little effort the players are putting forth. But, how can you blame them? Football is one of, if not the most, violent sports. Players risk their health and careers every time they step on the field (and don’t forget the millions they could lose by sustaining a serious injury in a game of which the outcome doesn’t matter). Let’s face it, the many trips to Honolulu, Hawaii have more than likely been the best part of the whole endeavor for many of the participants.

At the 2012 Spring League Meeting, this very topic was addressed. Per a transcript on NFLCommunications.com, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stated, “...we have to improve the quality of that game. If we can’t improve it and can’t make it more competitive, then we shouldn’t play.” Agreed. The quality of play is not at the high level the NFL and its fans have come to expect. The risks are simply too high, and the benefits too low, for players to go all-out.

Yes, the players can earn a game-check through the Pro Bowl. But, who cares? They don’t need money (well, most of them don’t, but even for the guys that do, they risk losing more than they could possibly win). Canceling the Pro Bowl and creating an entirely new All-star event is far more feasible than improving the quality of “that game.” Instead of trying to salvage the Pro Bowl (which appears to be what is happening judging from the joint press release), the NFL should start a new tradition that’s competitive, and better embraces fan, player, and safety interests.

Might I suggest an All-star skills competition? The NFL Combine, give or take some drills, is essentially the same concept, with the exception that it’s full of unproven rookie candidates. Even still, it has become a major event (disagree?...then explain the extensive coverage surrounding it…the combine engulfs three days of broadcasting, not to mention the never-ending analysis that follows). There is a definite interest in watching players strive to run their fastest, put up the most bench reps, jump the highest, and so on and so forth. Granted, injuries can still happen, but the likeliness is greatly reduced without contact. If a group of rookies can make America tune-in, imagine the attention the event could achieve if it starred the best-of-the-best that the NFL has to offer.

Does Fitz jump higher than Megatron? Is Devin Hester faster than CJ2K? I bet Janikowski can make the longest field goal of any kicker in the league, hands down, no questions asked.

...Hey, maybe we could get Rich Eisen to run the forty in a Hawaiian shirt, khaki shorts, and a lei. I’d tune-in just for that!
@sethbreeden

9 comments:

  1. One of the TV channels in the offseason use to have a football competition. There would be a QB competition, weightlifting, kicking competition and etc. It was enjoyable to watch. I agree that the pro bowl is painful to watch and I don't blame the players as they do not want to get hurt. In fact the competition use to be held in Hawaii. I vote for a competition. Anyone's else agree.

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  2. I agree that a skills competition may be more interesting plus would would lose much less than just getting rid of the game completely. Players would still have the chance reach out to fans through social media, and given the NFL's place on TV right now I don't think that ratings would be too much of an issue. I actually think that something like "Who is the fastest man in the NFL: Hester vs CJ2K" is MORE intriguing than "Watch CJ2K carry the ball three times in the Pro Bowl".

    It is interesting that even though the Pro Bowl has caught so much negative media attention after this past season, it still draws a large TV audience. I believe it did between a 13 and a 14 which was still tops among major league all-star games despite the copious complaints. That is exactly why I think that a skills competition with some hype around it could do just as well if not better than the Pro Bowl. It may bring back some attention to the All-Pro team as well.

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    1. I agree, it's odd the Pro Bowl has such high viewership && so many complaints. (I'm pretty sure the crowd booed at the last one). I think trying to incorporate some of the Madden mini-games might be a good idea too...Madden has become near-and-dear to the majority of NFL fans

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  3. Awesome article Seth. Made some excellent points all around, well laid out and argued.

    Oh, and the Pro Bowl sucks. Remember when (RIP) Sean Taylor laid out Brian Moorman on the fake punt and was ridiculed for it? Yeah, that's the Pro Bowl in a nutshell...

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    1. thx Blogkowski...you still lapping up that milk? stay thirsty my friend!

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  4. Great read. Like some one posted before they used to do a skills competition and it was really cool. I remember the FG competition coming down to Akers and Vinatieri. To make it cooler I think it was like a game of horse. This also where I watched Andre Johnson beat like guys in a race. NFL should take notice with the NHL that have an all-star weekend. Friday - Fantasy Draft Saturday- Skills competition Sunday - Pro-Bowl game.

    Using the NHL format the NFL would have both make the Pro-Bowl a longer fan friendly event and still be able to keep the joke game at the end.

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    1. great points...was surprised Andre Johnson won that race, didn't kno he was that fast. Thx for reading bro!

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    2. Great points...I was surprised Andre Johnson won that race. Thx for reading bro!

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