The Pro Bowl is just one of many major sports All-Star games that need a makeover. With the latest Pro Bowl being held on Jan. 26, one week before the Super Bowl, the NFL will try anything to make it relevant before Super Bowl week is in full force. This year's latest experiment to turn the Pro Bowl into a fantasy game between Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders certainly qualifies as something.
Instead of the usual NFC vs AFC format for the Pro Bowl, Rice and Sanders basically held a fantasy draft days ago, forming their own teams from the crop of NFL All-Stars. Of course, not every All-Star is available for this game, as those from the Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers certainly couldn't show up.
This is a lasting consequence from holding the Pro Bowl one week before the Super Bowl -- the last big idea the NFL came up with to revitalize the event. Perhaps if the likes of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman could play in this game, if only for a quarter or two, it would bring some added intrigue. Instead, Rice and Sanders had to choose from the best of the rest, along with players who were only selected as replacements.
No matter what the NFL tries, it becomes harder and harder every year to justify keeping the Pro Bowl alive. Of course, it's been getting harder and harder for major sports' All-Star Games to stay relevant in general. The NBA and baseball have been coasting on their skills competitions the night before their midseason classics, although the Slam Dunk Contest and Home Run Derby have seen better days.
Football has had a trickier time, since it can't hold its All-Star Game in midseason. Doing it a week after the Super Bowl in Honolulu used to work just fine for decades, but the Pro Bowl has seemed more and more outdated in recent years. Now the NFL is counting on two of its old legends to give it a boost, although Rice and Sanders can only do so much.
Nevertheless, the Pro Bowl is the only football game to watch this Sunday, before the grander finale in the much colder MetLife Stadium on Feb. 2. But first, Rice and Sanders' little fantasy game will be held at 7:30 p.m. est on NBC.