Why the NFL Pro Bowl Must Die

Todd WashburnContributor IApril 30, 2012

HONOLULU, HI - JANUARY 29:  Brandon Marshall #19 of the Miami Dolphins is the most valueable player for the 2012 NFL Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium on January 29, 2012 in Honolulu, Hawaii.  (Photo by Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)
Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

Death to the Pro Bowl. At least that’s what some people are hoping. 

NFL league sources recently leaked information regarding the Pro Bowl’s demise after 2013—and for good reason.  It needs to be sacked.

Maybe not entirely. Perhaps a balloting process is warranted, but a pillow fight is more dangerous than the modern-day Pro Bowl.

The Pro Bowl is the equivalent of an NFL All-Star game—a glorified scrimmage between the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC) at the end of the regular season. 

The first All-Star game started in the 1938 season but was not christened the “Pro Bowl” until 1950.  The first twenty-one games of the Pro Bowl (1951-1972) were played in Los Angeles, Ca., then were hosted annually in different cities until 1980.

At which point the NFL decided—for whatever reason—to turn the Pro Bowl into a vacation spot.

Until 2009 the game was housed in Honolulu, Hawaii. In 2010, the Pro Bowl was played in Miami, where the Super Bowl was to be played a week later. This marked the first time ever that the Pro Bowl was held before the Super Bowl, with the new rule that the conference teams could not include players scheduled to play the following Sunday. 

How in the wide-world of sports can we be inspired to watch a game featuring the “best” football players when said players are picked from such a limited list?

This was a bad idea.

Currently, players are voted into the Pro Bowl by the coaches, the players themselves, and the fans. Each group's ballot counts for one-third of the votes. The fans vote online at the NFL's official website. There are also replacements that go to the game should any selected player be unable to play due to injuries. Prior to 1995, only the coaches and the players made Pro Bowl selections. 

This is the first gaffe.  It might sound obvious, but fans know less about their favorite sports than the players and coaches. 

Will the best players be playing in the Pro Bowl if fans allow their biases to dictate who participates and who doesn't?

For example, the starting NFC quarterback in the January 2011 Pro Bowl was Eagles Quarterback Michael Vick.  Though voted in by fans, Vick clearly wasn't the best QB in the NFC that year, passing for only 3,018 yards and 21 touchdowns. 

By contrast, Drew Brees completed 68.1 percent of his passes (compared with Vick's 62.8 percent), while throwing for 4,620 yards and 33 touchdowns. 

Next, there is very little incentive to actually play the game. Unlike the MLB All-Star game, the Pro Bowl is just a showcase of talent.

The Pro Bowl means nothing. 

Sure, there is a trophy.  There is even a little bitty payout.  In the 2011 season, a record $50,000 was awarded for the winners, $25,000 for the losers. But why would today's NFL stars risk injury in a pointless showcase for a fraction of their season salary?

Answer: they don’t. 

Scores are high, linemen play touch football and receivers, after the catch, dive like quarterbacks on a broken play. 

Why do they keep this joke of a game going? 

Ratings. 13.1 million fans tuned to view the 2011 NFL Pro Bowl.  While the event is making money for some, it sure isn't much fun to watch.