The Pro Bowl is the NFL's "All Star" game featuring the best players from the NFC and AFC. Well... almost the best. This year, fans will not see players like Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Reggie Wayne or Darren Sharper because they are busy getting ready for next week's Super Bowl. We know that these players can not chance getting injured, but how does the NFL have an "All Star" game without them? A Pro Bowl this year is not a Pro Bowl without Peyton Manning!
Since 1980, the Pro Bowl has been played in Honolulu two weeks after the Super Bowl. However, in an effort to generate more interest and kick off Super Bowl Week, the NFL made some changes to its Pro Bowl. It is now played one week before the Super Bowl at the same location of this championship game.
I understand wanting to improve the game and engage more people (I am a huge advocate of continuous improvement) and despite the NFL doing a pretty great job of this, their Pro Bowl needs some work. But, having a Pro Bowl without Peyton Manning is an oxymoron, not the solution. How can they call it a Pro Bowl without Peyton Manning?
I have a few suggestions for the NFL. OK, I know that I am dreaming of a perfect world without injuries in the first two, but here they are:
1. Move the Pro Bowl to Thanksgiving week. Like the Super Bowl they could get all eyes on one program. This would be a great way to showcase their stars and allow fans to truly see the best players.
2. Host the Pro Bowl after the season in late February or early March. This is a slow time for the NFL. Sure the Scouting Combine happens, but fans do not really follow this. Generate more interest in the combine and lead into the draft.
3. Allow fans to Select "All Star" players, but do not play the game. Fans already recognize that the players are not really playing at their best to prevent injuries, so eliminate the game. Plan a fan event that acknowledges the players and interacts with the community. (I have already given options for free, so don't expect the details on this event.)
If the NFL, does not like any of those options, I suggest that they change the name. Fans can't buy into a game promoted as an "All Star" game when the starters are actually back up. Again, a Pro Bowl is not a Pro Bowl without Peyton Manning!
Heels & Helmets