Written By: Gianfranco Illiano
The National Football League’s version of an all-star game—the Pro Bowl, should be taken out.
What once used to be a glorified exhibition game, the Pro Bowl, is now the most embarrassing thing the NFL has to offer to its loyal fans. It must be taken out for the sake of the players’ safety, something the NFL takes very seriously… or at least that’s what they say.
It’s become clear, the players selected in the Pro Bowl don’t want to participate or give their full effort. Who can blame them? It’s wise on their part because no player should ever have to risk an injury for a game that is meaningless.
A perfect example is Pittsburgh Steelers’ wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who is a superstar in the making. In such a short amount of time, Smith-Schuster has become a fan favorite and a vital part to the Steelers’ offense. On Sunday, the Steelers’ wide receiver suffered a knee contusion, according to multiple reports. Smith-Schuster is fortunate, his injury could have been much worse. Now imagine being a Steelers fan and knowing next season, the likelihood of the team being without superstars Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. At one point, it was possible Pittsburgh could’ve been without the team’s three best players starting the 2019 season.
The saddest part is that the game is being played at half-speed (more like no-speed) and the pads/protection the players wear are useless because none of the players are getting tackled anymore.
I’m somebody who believes when someone identifies a problem, that same person should present a solution to the problem, as well.
Here’s what the NFL should do: take out the current game format, and allow the players selected in the Pro Bowl participate in entertaining competitions. The NFL has already installed dodgeball and other games for the players, but there needs to be more of that.
The NFL should also install more skill position competitions, such as the forty-yard dash, bench press competitions, eating competitions for the big guys upfront, and much more.
A great idea to enhance the Pro Bowl would be something similar the NFL has done before, and that is to allow the fans to elect four captains for four different teams and have the selected players pick their own squads for a seven-on-seven, tournament style, flag-football game. There are already 44 players in the Pro Bowl, so there would be 11 players on each team (seven starters, four subs).
Allowing the fans to elect the captains of each team would be intriguing and watching those captains select their own teams would be even more interesting. Essentially, there would be a draft consisting of four teams selecting 44 Pro Bowlers. The NFL could make more money by televising the selections of each team and that alone, would draw more attention from the fans.
The NFL already incentivizes the players in the Pro Bowl with money, but not nearly as much as they should. Instead, the NFL should give out a 500 thousand dollar prize to each player of the team who wins the tournament, that way the game becomes more competitive and ultimately, more enjoyable for the fans.
The bottom line is that the Pro Bowl has become a joke. The NFL needs to make changes immediately.