The 2019 Pro Bowl was another example of the NFL’s growing list of problems. The lack of effort was obvious, and it felt like a waste of time for the players, coaches, and especially fans. Orlando has hosted the game the past few years after a long tradition in Hawaii, and the weather has been ugly the past two seasons. These are supposed to be the best players in football, however, I question if this is true every year. Many of the top players drop out for various reasons leaving questionable replacements.
More and more fans are losing interest in the game, and the future is in serious doubt. In order to bring back why the Pro Bowl exists, to celebrate the game and honour the best of the best, here are a few ideas for improving the game.
The Pro Bowl, Not So “Pro” Anymore
Delay The Game A Few Weeks
The game used to be after the Super Bowl and allowed players from the big game to play. Now that the Pro Bowl is before the Super Bowl, many of the top players can’t play. This year, players such as Aaron Donald and Todd Gurley from the Los Angeles Rams, and Tom Brady and Stephon Gilmore from New England Patriots did not appear. The Pro Bowl is supposed to be the best players in the NFL playing against each other. Donald and Gurley are easily top three at their respective positions, so not having them in an all-star game takes away from the prestige.
By delaying the Pro Bowl a few weeks after the Super Bowl, the chance that the best players are available is significantly higher. The Super Bowl winners have time to celebrate and recover and still play in the Pro Bowl. This is an event for the fans and by moving the game, the NFL can demonstrate the appreciation they have for the fans.
I’m Just Here So I Won’t Get Fined
Every year some of the players drop out of the Pro Bowl for various reasons. Most of them are because of injury but others just decide not to play. If you are healthy and able to play, you should. Not playing in the Pro Bowl when you are healthy takes away from the prestige and honour it has. When nearly everyone selected drops out, we get undeserving players such as Jameis Winston in 2015 and Andy Dalton in 2014. When the alternates are the sixth or seventh top voted players it takes away from the idea that the best of the best are in this game.
Players selected should be required to participate or face a significant fine. Unless injured or a valid reason such as the birth of a child or death of a loved one occurs, players should be in the Pro Bowl. Being selected is supposed to be an honour. This is debated every year when players such as Brady dropped out for unspecified reasons. You should be honoured to play in this game and should play unless you have a legit reason not to.
Hawaii hosted the Pro Bowl from 1980-2009 and 2011-2014. As one of the most beautiful places on earth, it provided players with an all expense paid trip to somewhere they may never visit otherwise. The weather was always warm and sunny, and the game was never played in rain.
The fans in Hawaii saw the Pro Bowl as their Super Bowl since they do not have an NFL team. It gave the fans in Hawaii their only chance all season to see their favourite players in person. Orlando is near multiple NFL teams including three in Florida. Besides Disney World and Universal Studios, the number of tourist attractions is nowhere near as dense as Hawaii. The past two years the game has been played in downpour rain, which made the game even less enjoyable than normal.
Moving back to Honolulu allows the NFL the chance to expand the game which is one of their most supported initiatives. I know I would rather get a free trip to Hawaii than Orlando, and I’m sure the players would agree.
The Pro Bowl is nearly unwatchable. Players give little to no effort, and there is little excitement, unlike any other game. I used to enjoy the Pro Bowl, seeing the best players compete against each other. The past few seasons have made me care less and less about the game and shifted my attention to the Super Bowl.
For an event that is supposed to be for the fans, the NFL does not seem to do what the fans want. The future of the Pro Bowl is unknown, and fans like myself wonder what the game will become the next few seasons.
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