The Pro Bowl has been a hot topic around the league this week, as the NFL and its owners are discussing the future of the game at this week’s owners meeting in Atlanta.
Those around the league are finally starting to notice that the current format of the Pro Bowl is dying. The actual game has been below-par for ages, the players play at less than full speed, attempting not to get hurt. That was made very evident in the 2021 game, where it seemed even more so than usual.
The game always used to be in Hawaii, but has recently been played in Orlando and Las Vegas, an attempt to spice things up a bit, but also where the money is at.
Roger Goodell, the league’s commissioner has had his say on the situation at a press conference this week, stating “I think the conclusion was that the game itself, doesn’t work. And that we needed to find a different way to celebrate our players. Celebrate the fact that, these being our Pro Bowler players, the best players in our league, and give them an opportunity to celebrate that with our fans. We talked an awful lot about some of the events around the Pro Bowl are really extremely popular, whether it’s the quarterback challenge or some of the other events, so those are things that we’ll probably build on.”
What I can take away from what Goodell has said there, is that those in the meeting are discussing multiple ways to change up the event. Perhaps removing the game entirely, instead focusing on the popular skills challenge that’s held in the lead up to the game, as well as some other alternatives to celebrate the players.
I like that as an option, but I believe I can make it better. I have a few ideas that I think the league should consider.
One of those is making it an all-day event, having the skills challenge first, before finishing with a flag football game. It keeps the game element of the Pro Bowl, but offers something that’s new and most importantly should be very entertaining.
Having a flag football game should seem more enticing to the players too, as there’s no chance of a contact caused injury. It would also be no way near as long and drag as much as the Pro Bowl game has in recent years.
Like what Goodell told the media this week, the QB target challenge is perhaps the best part of the entire event, seeing ‘some’ of the league’s best quarterbacks, and non-QB’s show off their arm strength and accuracy. Dodgeball is always great, I’d keep that, as is the gauntlet, and any sort of catching challenge.
I put an emphasis on the ‘some’ just then because one of the worst things about the current Pro Bowl format is the fact that the players of the teams in the Super Bowl can’t take part in it, due to the fact it’s played on the Sunday between the Conference Championship weekend and the big game. I’d put it back to when it used to be, a week after the Super Bowl.
2022 saw a new challenge make its debut, the fastest man race that put four of the quickest players, two from each conference, up against each other over a 40-yard dash. The race, won by Micah Parsons after a Tyreek Hill stumble was awesome this year, but it could be better. Make it a 100m sprint. My only gripe was that the race was only a couple of seconds long. This solves that.
It should 100% remain an AFC vs NFC game and event, whatever the future holds. The NBA style all-star game they trialled between 2013 and 2015 didn’t work.
One last thing I think the league should consider is putting the Pro Bowl on tour, as they do for the draft. It would probably make the event better as different teams and cities would want to put on a show. The game could even go international. I believe it would work in the UK, Germany or Mexico.
Even if they keep the game as it is, but use a couple of these suggestions, that’s still an improvement on the current Pro Bowl. What would you do to fix it? Let us know on Twitter.