ESPN The NFL is overhauling the Pro Bowl, eliminating the AFC-NFC format in favor of captains picking 43 players per team regardless of conference. In addition, kickoffs will be eliminated from the game as a safety measure, one of several changes to the game. Voting for the game also will be changed as conference affiliation no longer will be considered in determining the All-Star selections. Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders will be captains of their respective picking teams. The Pro Bowl draft will be held Jan. 22 next year and the game will be played Jan. 26 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.
These changes are an improvement, but they have not solved the biggest issue that the Pro Bowl has, which is the fact that none of the players want to play in the game. The game is a meaningless scrimmage, which is essentially a seven on seven passing drill, and the only players who seem to want to show up are the rookies who have never been to Hawaii before or experienced the thrills of an All-Star game. After the rigors of an NFL season, the last thing these players want to do is play through all of the punishment, bumps and bruises that they have just endured, and risk getting seriously injured one last time. Are players like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rogers and Drew Brees going to want to play in the Pro Bowl after these new changes have been made? I highly doubt it. As a fan, the only thing that I pay attention to during the Pro Bowl is making sure that none of the players suffer a serious injury. My team just made it through an entire season, we have a lot of changes to make during the offseason, and the last thing we need is another injury in a meaningless scrimmage before next season. I am still in favor of doing away with the Pro Bowl entirely, name the All-Pro teams and move on, maybe allow the players to compete in a seven-on-seven and position-specific skills competitions if they want to make the trip out to NFL All-Star weekend. The fans don’t care. The media doesn’t care, except for the fact that it gives them another event to scream about every year, when a deserving player is not voted to the Pro Bowl or a veteran declines an invite to the game. Most importantly, although it is nice for a young player to get a free vacation, I do not think the players care. Eliminate the Pro-Bowl. The game does not translate. It’s time.
Also, what happens if one of the captains decides to screw the other captain over and pick every player at a position? I know that the other captain will notice, but these ex-players who will captain the teams have taken a lot of shots to the head, they could get tricked. I’m sure the Vikings front office would not be happy to hear that Adrain Peterson was playing outside linebacker in the Pro Bowl (although he’d probably be nasty) because Jerry Rice didn’t draft enough linebackers. Okay this is a joke and a major stretch, the player’s union won’t let players line up out of position I’m sure, for those of you who take everything seriously.