January 27, 2010

The NFL's 2010 Not-So-Pro-Bowl

Every year since 1980, the best football players in the world embark on a week long journey to Hawaii to play in the NFL's Pro Bowl.

It was, at one point, considered a great honor to be picked to play in this game; the greatness of players were measured in part by the number of Pro Bowls they had been selected to.

Unfortunately, several factors have contributed to making the Pro Bowl less of an honor and also more irrelevant for NFL fans and players.

In recent years, the players have turned their backs on the game, preferring instead to take a few weeks for themselves before beginning their offseason workouts. The Pro Bowl, which used to be a showcase of the NFL's finest, has now become a game for the second-best players in football.

We know the game in and of itself is a glorified backyard scrimmage, but it turns fans off when their favorite players don't show up.

Another strong reason for the Pro Bowl's increasing irrelevance is that in 1995, fans became eligible to vote on who should make the Pro Bowl. Previously, the coaches and players were the only voters in the selection process.

This certainly takes away some of the luster of being voted to the Pro Bowl team. Players were at one point picked solely by their peers. The guys they played against every week throughout the season; they selected who was the best from among them.

As politically incorrect as this might sound, most fan voting is uninformed and biased. Most fans couldn't tell you who should be the starting center for the NFC, but they vote on it anyway.

The NFL is a fraternity. The fans are on the outside of that fraternity. Players just aren't going to have the same respect for fans and their opinions as they have for their own. That takes away from the prestige of the award.

However, the biggest blow to the Pro Bowl's credibility happened last offseason when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell decided to move the Pro Bowl to Miami a week before the Super Bowl in 2010.

A big reason why players attended the Pro Bowl was because it was held in Hawaii. Lots of players are in Miami at some point each year, and South Beach just doesn't have the same appeal as a Hawaiian sunset over the Pacific.

Plus, some of the best players are either playing in the Super Bowl next week or have just been eliminated from the postseason. None of those players really have a desire to play in this game.

Add that to the players who never attend anyway and the NFL has had to damn near replace half of the original starters who were picked to the Pro Bowl this year.

Brett Favre, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, and Tom Brady are all missing the Pro Bowl. That leaves just Aaron Rodgers as the only QB on either squad who was originally picked.

Here's the totals. The AFC had 43 players initially selected. 14 of them are skipping it. The NFC also had 43 players selected. 17 will not play.

So out of the 86 players selected to the Pro Bowl, nearly 40% will not play.

Goodell will hopefully realize what a disaster this has been, and move it back to Hawaii next year. I understand he was trying to use it to drum up more football fever during Super Bowl week, but it's not working.

A "Super" farce? I think so.

1 comment:

NFL Draft said...

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