Even with New Format, Pro Bowl's Success Hinges on the Players' Performance

Chris TrapassoAnalyst IJanuary 23, 2014

Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, left, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, second from left, and Deion Sanders, right, alumni team captain, welcome Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) during the second day of the NFL football Pro Bowl draft, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, in Kapolei, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Eugene Tanner)
Eugene Tanner/Associated Press

Forget the contrived "draft" hoopla that surrounded this year's Pro Bowl—fans and media will always take the all-star exhibition as seriously as the players do. 

And if you've watched, the players don't take the game very seriously at all. 

From offensive and defensive linemen transforming to unassuming loiterers after the ball is snapped to wideouts purposely limiting their yards after the catch to cornerbacks not contesting passes down the field coupled with a general disregard for defense, the game has really become the epitome of a farce. 

However, because the Pro Bowl is such a charade, it's remained a topic of conversation, even if that conversation is negative. 

Hey, the "any press is good press" mantra worked for MTV's Jersey Shore for a while, right? 

For a $9 billion-a-year operation, one would think the NFL would put a little more effort into their spectacle that features the game's finest players. 

Maybe, though, because of the exorbitant profits made, the league doesn't care. 

It seems like the majority of the players don't really care, either. 

HONOLULU, HI - JANUARY 27: Andrew Luck #12 of the AFC's Indianapolis Colts passes against the NFC Team during the 2013 AFC-NFC Pro Bowl on January 27 , 2013 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo by Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)
Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

Not every player dogs it all game. In fact, usually sometime in the second half, the intensity increases, but it never reaches regular-season levels.

The handful of guys who actually try to make a back-shoulder grab or speed past the left tackle after standing around for the first three quarters wind up making the big plays in a game with mainly lethargic participants. 

Heck, most of the players likely don't want to get hurt—and it's hard to blame them for not risking their bodies in a meaningless, made-for-TV showcase. 

As long as there are agents—and there'll always be agents—Pro Bowl players won't be giving their all for a contest that doesn't count in the standings or on the stat sheet and can't be utilized as a way to prepare for the 16-game schedule that matters. 

Because of all of that, the fans will act accordingly. 

They'll wander to the TV station showing the Pro Bowl, look for their favorite team's helmet and watch for a few minutes before continuing their channel-surfing adventure.

Maybe they'll check back in the fourth quarter. Maybe. 

Not exactly the type of interest one would think the NFL would want.

Really, the league should just eliminate the game altogether and implement a full-blown, less risky skills competition. 

From a 40-yard dash to a quarterback throw to agility obstacle courses for running backs to field-goal contests, it'd be a much more effective way to capture the audience's attention in a purposely more relaxed yet still competitive environment. 

Because now, the Pro Bowl "game" can be most easily likened to a scrimmage.