One of the biggest accolades a player can receive is an All Star Vote: this vote deems them qualified and skilled enough to play alongside the best players in the league. Yes, it’s great to see your team win but, in the event you root for a team like the Detroit Lions and wins don’t come so easy, as a fan, the second best thing you can hope for is your favorite player being voted to the Pro-Bowl. It gives y ou a sort of vindication that, yeah, maybe you didn’t win more than 6 games this year, but you had the best Right Tackle in the league!
That being said, while there used to be a time when All-Star honors were something that players wore with pride, a time when the actually tried during these displays of herculean sport might, the truth is that now, players don’t really care that much. This is ESPECIALLY true for the Pro Bowl. I mean, I get it, at the end of the season, NFL players compete for a total of approximately 6 months in the most physically demanding sport in America. The last thing players want to do, or the fan have happen, is further an injury or birth new ones. But still, watching two guys in Hawaiian Shirts call plays for what is basically a glorified version of what you and your cousins do after Thanksgiving is a joke, a joke that is publicized to millions of people and, in my opinion, is worthless.
Why the Pro Bowl Worthless?
Essentially the Pro Bowl is a vacation that the players get to go on at the end of the year (not like they couldn’t pay for something like that on their own), and have some fun in the tropical sun of Hawaii. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for rewarding a player for a spectacular season filled with blood, sweat, and tears by sending them on vacation, all the while putting a Pro Bowl nomination on their résumé. But if they don’t want to go, is it really such a good idea to expect them to?
I mean come on, when 16 players (31 if you add players on Super Bowl teams) decline invitations to the Pro Bowl because of reasons such as injury, fatigue, or just not wanting to go, you know something is wrong. AFC and NFC teams have to add 30 players in order to meet the requirement of players attending. So guys like Josh Cribbs (yeah, he’s still playing) get to play while the explosive Jacoby Jones, someone who actually deserved it, cannot attend cause of the Super Bowl. That’s like telling me: “Sorry Ian, I know you came to because we were advertising free Maseratis, but we’re out of Maseratis. Want to test drive a 92 Dodge Neon?”. No, I don’t want to drive a goddam neon. I can drive a Neon anytime I want. Give me the Maserati I was promised!
Besides the fact that players do not feel like showing up to the Pro Bowl, TV ratings have progressively gone down every year, including an 8.7% drop from 2011-2012. This year, the ratings took a small jump but only because the people wanted to see if the players would try this year after Roger Goodells threat. Even though the game had the best rating of the night, in a close second was a rerun on ABC of Americas Funniest Home Videos. America’s Funniest Home Videos, or as I like to call it, 60 minutes dogs running into glass doors and toddlers hitting their father’s in the crotch with plastic baseball bats. What I’m saying is, the Pro Bowl performance had gotten better but was still ultimately unimpressive. Even Roger Goodell would only go as far to say “I saw improvement”.
I do not hope Mr. Goodell is talking about the fact J.J. Watt played receiver and came off the field to show off his finger like a kid on recess. Just watch the players, the lineman in specific, on these highlights, its ridiculous that the score was 62-35. So a beat down that bad occurred to the best the AFC has to offer? But hey, what do I know, ask the best running back in the AFC Arian Foster about it, he says players will try and “step it up,” but something like that isn’t too realistic.
“This isn’t basketball,” Foster said after practice. “You can’t go play a pickup game of football. If that’s what they expect and they’re going to take it away because of that, it’s probably going to be what it is. You can’t really expect that from guys that play 16-plus games a season and it to be a competitive game.”
What I Suggest
I love fans being able to vote for their favorite players into a group of All Stars. In the end, (besides heaps of money) all the players really want is fan appreciation. Sure, some do not really care what the average fan thinks, but for the most part players want to be liked and lauded. So I believe that the Pro Bowl should be just that, a fan voted group of individual All Stars but, instead of sending the players to Hawaii and watching them play in a game they do not care about, send them to Hawaii for a weekend of Football challenges. It won’t make that much a difference to networks- mostly, the Pro Bowl is just something that dive bars can put on Sunday the week before the Super Bowl. Vegas will still be able to make a buck from people betting on what players will win each individual skill competition, and maybe, without the worry of injury (and giving them something that matters to gloat about), the players will start to care again. Because right now, as it stands, the players really don’t care. And if they don’t care, why should I?