I don’t know about the rest of the NFL fans out there, but I get more excited for preseason games than the so called Pro Bowl. Roger Goodell has done just about everything in his power to increase the viewership of the Pro Bowl other than putting something entertaining on TV. The Pro Bowl has become the most irrelevant game of the season with many players voluntarily choosing to forgo it. The players love to be recognized by their fans and peers, but they enjoy playing in the game less than people enjoy watching it.
With the NFL being such an impressively run organization it boggles my mind how they haven’t come up with a way to make this one of the most watched NFL events of the year. How can the NFL round up its best collection of talent, put it all together on one field and produce an end result that is worse than any regular season game? Part of the problem is that players do not want to get hurt in a truly meaningless game. Can you blame them? The players’ livelihood is on the line and they don’t want to risk a fluke injury for a vacation they could pay for with the loose change in their sofa cushions. So how do we fix this you ask?
To start with we are going to scrap the entire idea of this silly Pro Bowl game altogether. Toss it in the garbage along with Jamarcus Russel’s career. There is no way to make this game interesting and no one wants to watch a game where the players are ready for it to be over before it starts. Now that we have wiped the slate clean it is time to start anew. So how do we take a meaningless event and give it incredible entertainment value? It’s very simple; we are going to bring back the NFL Skills Challenge with a twist. The Skills challenge was always the best part of Pro Bowl weekend and I still have no idea why it was removed. You may be saying well that isn’t really a revolutionary idea, anyone could have come up with that. The problem is that the NFL hasn’t and they didn’t maximize the format when it was around.
The first task is finding a way to motivate players that for all intents and purposes have nothing to play for. That’s why the Pro Bowl will be centered around 2 motivating factors, the chance to be recognized on an individual level and money. Give the NFL stars a chance to prove that they are the best at their particular craft. Isn’t that what the Pro Bowl is truly about anyway? The Pro Bowl isn’t about camaraderie or playing as team, it is simply about being the best at their particular position and the current format does nothing to validate who’s the best of the best. It is time to establish a format that does just that and make it entertaining in the process.
The skills challenge will be developed to determine who is the most talented and athletic player at their particular position and rewarding them accordingly. Compensation for the event will be based on where they finish among the ranks in their position battle, with the top player in each position winning a $1 million dollar prize. Every position will have a corporate sponsor who will donate equal prize money to the player's charity of choice. The challenges will be held on an individual basis so there will be minimized risk for injury. Players now get a chance to step into the spotlight, prove they are the best at their position, earn some real money in the process and all the while helping a great cause.
Now comes the part of making the entire thing something worth sitting down and watching. Hire a handful of the most creative producers from shows like Fear Factor, That Crazy Chinese Game show with all the insane obstacles and let’s throw in someone from the X-Games for good measure. To ensure that viewers are interested in watching lets allow them to vote during the course of the season in regards to the lineup of events that the players will compete in. The focus of the events will be competition, talent level and most importantly entertainment. Don’t just have offensive and defensive lineman do a bench press, have them compete in a strong man type competition with an emphasis on fun and showmanship. Have the receivers pair with their favorite QB at the event and create the equivalent of the NBA dunk contest. Receivers will compete to see who can have the most impressive catch, blindfolded, one handed, upside down, I don’t care, just don’t make NFL fans sit through another boring Pro Bowl.
The NFL owes it to the players and fans alike to put a better product on the field. Keep the event in Hawaii and keep it the week before the Super Bowl, but don’t keep making people ignore what should be one of the NFL’s best events. Roger Goodell please consider this my official application for Pro Bowl events coordinator.