Pro Bowl 2013: Ideas to Replace the Boring NFL All-Star Game
Another listless NFL Pro Bowl has taken place, and had Roger Goodell asked fans the Gladiator-inspired question: "Are you not entertained?" The predominant answer would have been an Amy Winehouse-esque: "No, No, No."
When I choose to watch the WWE's Royal Rumble live and DVR the Pro Bowl, that's not saying much for the NFL's all-star game.
Thanks to my DirecTV recording device, I happen to know the NFC defeated the AFC 62-35 on Sunday.
Besides Peyton Manning, who enjoys the Pro Bowl?
Manning did the right thing by trying to encourage players to play hard in the event, per NFL.com, but this is a lost cause. The players don't care, and the fans don't either.
Here is a short guide to fixing the NFL All-Star showcase.
Make the Pro-Bowl Announcements Part of the NFL Awards Announcements
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Announce the Pro Bowlers and NFL individual awards at the same ceremony. This could preferably take place the Friday after the Super Bowl. They are all individual awards and they should be grouped together.
The NFL's official awards show draws a good amount of attention. The appeal would be even more wide spread if nearly every NFL team's fan base had a chance to see one of their own honored as a Pro Bowler.
I'd even take it one step further; why not have the the Lombardi trophy officially handed over—or retained—at this ceremony as well.
The local parade can take place the day after the awards show. It would allow fans to be a part of the crowning of all the major NFL awards.
Scrap the Game and Replace It with an Original Event
Kent Nishimura/Getty Images
The game is marred by less-than-spirited play, big-name players avoiding the showcase because of injury concerns, and now the absence of stars from Super Bowl teams. This thing is damaged beyond repair.
There is no rescheduling or stack of incentives the commissioner and player's union will be able to create to change these dynamics.
Because of the physical nature of the sport, the danger will always be there if players actually compete. Marketing a football decathlon-like event would be interesting—Mixing in some of the common events like strongest arm, accurate passer, fastest man, obstacle course, weightlifting and some other events to determine the NFL's best overall athlete.
Obviously, putting up a significant cash prize would be necessary and warranted, but fans would flock to see this.
It would be like Superstars meets the NFL Combine. For those that aren't familiar with Superstars, check out the video below.
Make the Talent Showcase a Pre-Season Event
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Fans are starving for anything football related before the regular season begins. If the money, attention, and the blessing from the league are there, the players will come.
I wouldn't expect to see players like Manning or Tom Brady as anything but spectators, but the big stars aren't showing up as it is.
You'd have a better shot at getting them to show up at an event before the season.
Hire Hosts That Matter
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Any televised event has to have a broadcast team. If the NFL plans on making such a drastic change to their all-star showcase, they have to validate it with a solid broadcast team.
Deion Sanders would be an excellent choice as one member of the team. He's one of the greatest athletes the sport has ever seen and he's generally compelling on the mic.
Balance out Sanders' candor with someone like Rich Eisen, and the voices of the event would be set.
Make It a Big Deal
The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports
If Roger Goodell and the NFL wants you to care about the changes, they have to push them.
Even if the most cynical fan tunes in with a ton of doubts, the football fan in him or her will still tune in. At the end of the day, that's what it's all about.
The NFL's marketing power is immensely strong and people love new things. The combination of the two would make this a success.