By Matt Criswell
This year, the NFL has decided to make a change. Not to the rules of the game, but instead to the longtime running AFC-NFC Pro Bowl. Many are unhappy, but it is a necessary change to keep interest up.
The Pro Bowl has been in existence since 1938, when it was named the “Pro All Star Game,” and has pitted the AFC against the NFC since 1970. Usually the very last NFL matchup played in a season, the game was moved to a week before the Super Bowl in 2010, as a new rule was created to disallow the championship teams from participating.
Among other sports, the Pro Bowl has had the lowest ratings of any all-star game when compared with regular season games. Despite that, the ratings are still higher than the MLB All Star Game, which is the highest-rated baseball game. All this seems OK, but for the past three years, the ratings have been dropping.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stated in a Sirius XM radio interview that if players did not start to play more competitively, then the game would no longer be played.
To save the event, the NFL Players Association lobbied to make various rule changes and decided that the game would no longer be played between the AFC and the NFC, but instead the players would be picked in a fantasy football style draft by two captains.
Although people were outraged by this because they say that changing something that has been in place for 40 years in unnecessary, this change is a much-needed facelift for the Pro Bowl. Bringing in Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders to pick the teams adds a flare and potentially improves the number of watchers.
As recent ratings show, the Pro Bowl is considered to be a boring football game with a lack of competition. Some have even called it the annual NFL pillow fight. The NFL finally decided to do something about it, because something needed to be changed in order to gain more attention.
This game will be very exciting because it will show what happens when players from the different conferences play together instead of against one another. NFC quarterbacks will throw to AFC receivers, and AFC running backs could run while receiving blocks from their teammates. It adds a very interesting factor into this matchup and should, in turn, increase the number of followers.
With this new system, the NFL has realized that the Pro Bowl will not be taken seriously, so it has made it a lighthearted event that people can enjoy watching.
The Pro Bowl will take place on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. on NBC.
By Roger Munoz
The NFL is desperately trying to attract viewers to the Pro Bowl by adding a “fantasy football” element, but it still doesn’t address the glaring issues with the actual game itself.
This new format has Hall of Famers Deion Sanders and Jerry Rice drafting players from either conference to be on their team. The draft itself may garner some viewers, but will it attract viewers to watch the game?
The common complaint from fans is the lack of competiveness that is displayed year after year. It’s evident that players aren’t playing at full speed as they would a regular-season game or playoff game.
The Pro Bowl can best be described as a glorified preseason game that no veteran player wants to be a part of.
This lack of effort is understandable from players, as the fear of injury is always there. Why should players risk their careers for a meaningless game? A major injury can hurt a player’s leverage in attaining a big contract.
It has become the norm for players to turn down a trip to Hawaii. All eight San Francisco 49ers who were selected to this year’s Pro Bowl roster have turned down the invitation. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady also declined.
The Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos had a combined 11 Pro Bowlers who won’t play because they advanced to the Super Bowl. This includes Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas, Richard Sherman and Marshawn Lynch.
The Pro Bowl is supposed to feature the all-stars of the game, but many of the all-stars either are not interested or disallowed from playing. Without the big names present, the fans have lost interest in the game.
The NFL’s hope to salvage the Pro Bowl should rely on getting players motivated to actually attend and play hard. Adding a “fantasy draft” does not change who is playing in the Pro Bowl. It just distracts fans from the actual problem.