If someone is talking about a riveting, edge-of-your-seat game that has you biting your nails as the clock slowly dwindles down, one thing is for sure, they are not talking about the Pro Bowl. Football is such a physical and emotional game that it requires incentive to properly motivate the players. During the Preseason, the motivation is to win a roster spot or maybe even a starting spot. When the regular season rolls around the motivation is to beat your opponent, your rival, win the division, conference championship, and of course the reason for the season is to hoist the Lombardi Trophy after defeating the competing conference champion in the Super Bowl. Weaved through it all is the chance for the "Big Contract," which is ultimately the main motivation to play the game. Other than the lack of incentive, the Pro Bowls other problem is that all the prestige lies in getting selected to the Pro Bowl, very few actually want to participate in the game, and those who do have little interest in exerting themselves fully.
Sharp criticism followed last seasons Pro Bowl as players criticized others for their lack of effort. The result was that the Pro Bowl was placed on the chopping block, and its future put in question. Despite being the highest rated sport event of the weekend, ratings for the game still declined by 8.1% from the previous years game. Despite still having higher ratings than several NBA Conference Championship games along with higher ratings than NCAA Elite Eight games, the NFL still needs to address the competitiveness problem because the ratings will undoubtedly continue to fall because those high ratings, most likely are the result of curious fans and non-fans. Losing those fans means you lose your ratings also.
The NFL has proposed several solutions that have not addressed the lack of competitiveness problem. Yesterday, however, the NFL presented an intriguing idea that has the potential to be fun for all fans as well as potential fans. Their idea is to play a college All-Star game that would kick off the NFL Draft season. The idea is tricky because of all the NCAA rules; however, if the game only uses players that are eligible for the NFL Draft they could skirt those rules. The NFL should expand the social aspect of the Pro Bowl weekend, which is what the players enjoy the most.
In my opinion, they should consolidate the Pro Bowl, the scouting combine, and the college All-Star game into a large two-week event that is split between Indianapolis and Honolulu. The purpose would be to showcase the many personalities that exist in the NFL. I am reluctant to use the term reality show because it often elicits memories of an overweight guy, dressed up as cupid, prancing onto stage before belting out a horrible song on American Idol; however, technically that is what I am suggesting. Every NFL Player has memories of the combine,which could be recorded, and used during a later time. Pro Bowlers that take the opportunity to attend the combine, would be able to judge the players then along with coaches and talent evaluators, decide which combine participants get a trip to Honolulu to play in the NFL’s College All-Star game. During that week NFL and college players would hang out together and compete in different obstacle courses, which would culminate with the All-Star game. During the NFL draft, outtakes could be used, so that we could find out what Brandon Marshall thinks of a particular cornerback or receiver, which would spice up the draft, and allow them to promote their offseason TV program which would be broadcast after the draft. I do not have any idea if this would work, but I do know that I would be more interested in watching this than any Pro Bowl…