Here’s what’s wrong with the Pro Bowl: nobody gives a shit. The players don’t care, a stadium-full of confused Hawaiians don’t care, and unquestionably, television viewers back in the States don’t care.
Do you remember who won the Pro Bowl last year? Of course you don’t. NOBODY DOES. Even the Washington Redskins’ DeAngelo Hall doesn’t remember, and HE WAS THE MVP (oh and by the way, the NFC beat the AFC, 55-41). The year before, the AFC won 41-34, and the two years prior, the NFC won by a combined score of 72-51. Seriously, the over-under for the past 10 years is close to something like, 215 points. And why is this?
Well, if you know more about the Pro Bowl than I do—and trust me, you probably do—you know that the game is played with a whole ‘nother set of rules.
What in the shit is that?
I think it’s completely stupid to require that defenses play a 4-3, ban blitzing and refrain from penalizing intentional grounding. It’s ridiculous. I get that the NFL—who’d love an 18 game season, by the way!—is so compassionate about player safety. So concerned, in fact, that motion and shifting by the offense isn’t allowed, a tight-end has to be present on every play and that the offense can’t have more than three receivers on a side. Talk about the No Fun League.
This is a glorified game of touch football played by a bunch of dudes who were too lousy to make it into the Super Bowl. So why even play it?
Great question, Brandon.
Well, the players—those who bother to show up—get some extra spending cash. The victor walks home $45,000 richer and the loser makes a mere $22,500. I’d probably stab my mother in the thigh with a fork for $22,500, but for most of these folks, that’s chump change. The point is, the players could care less.
Is it big money from a television revenue standpoint? Probably not. Last year’s Pro Bowl reportedly drew 13.4 million viewers, which, while still the highest draw since 1997, barely beat-out last year’s MLB All Star Game (11 million) and NBA All Star Game (9.1 million). For a sport that routinely butt-rapes its competitors in every other facet of popularity, this isn’t saying much.
The Pro Bowl, however, is like that creepy homeless guy who lived in the incinerator room of your building. No matter how many times you stabbed him with that steak-knife, he refused to die. He got the message, finally—MERCIFULLY—and moved out of your building and into the alley behind that Chinese restaurant.
So what can we do with the Pro Bowl? Do we unsuccessfully try to stab it to death? Beg it to leave us alone and just go away? Or do we anoint the sores of that beggar’s feet and try to heal it, Jesus-style? Well, since it’s apparently not going anywhere (some version of an “All-Star Contest” has forced itself upon the sport since 1939), it seems like improving it is the only option. And nothing is more important than relevancy, right?
How to Make it Relevant:
Well, that’s all I’ve got. I think that we SHOULD make it relevant, but I have no fucking idea how. I’m open to suggestions (as I’m sure the league would be, as well). Major League Baseball had this problem after 2002’s boner of a game ended in a tie. The next year—amid the din of thousands and thousands of nerdy MLB fans—Commissioner Bud Selig said, “hear ye! hear ye! I hereby declare that all future contests between the American League baseball competitors and the National League baseball be determinant of who shall host home field advantage throughout the Series of the World!” And so it came to pass.
But we can’t do that in football. Home field advantage is A) a bigger deal in football, and B) ludicrously unfair to the visitor since it’s a one-and-done situation.
Pay These Fools, Fool:
As previously stated, the LOSER of this game currently gets over $22,000. Dude… I almost make $22,000 a year. What do these guys care? Lawrence Taylor has spent more on cocaine and unwilling, runaway teenage prostitutes in ONE NIGHT than these guys make for their entire 60 minutes of grueling, smash-mouth efforts. So what would it take to make these guys try? After some thorough (made-up) statistical analysis, I’d have to say $1 million for the winners, $500,000 for the losers. $500,000 can buy a lot of gaudy jewelry worth murdering someone over, and $1 million can buy you that SAME jewelry PLUS some crazy Italian sports car that makes women ovulate by sight alone.
Look, though this one is admittedly farfetched, it’s a really, really strong one. We could TOTALLY make this game interesting by killing one randomly chosen player’s child from the losing team. For some—I’m looking at you, Antonio Cromartie—the fact that you have 14 children will increase the chance that you lose an offspring. Imagine how hard he’d play! For others—like Matt Cassel, who made it last year (!)—this isn’t a deterrent. He HAS no children. In this case, and in effort to keep this even-stevens, we murder a beloved house pet. Or a spouse/significant other. I’m still working the details out on this one.
Loser Leaves Town:
Back in the olden days of professional rasslin’, they’d always have these fake-ass matches where the loser would have to retire. This banishment—never permanent, of course—added an extra level of excitement to what might be an otherwise less-than-spectacular contest. So why can’t we apply it to the Pro Bowl? In this twist, 5 randomly selected participants from the inferior squad would be forced into an early retirement, their contract automatically voided. Wouldn’t this make people try just a wee bit harder? As a bonus, Brutus “the Barber” Beefcake could cut the hair of the loser, too. Remember Brutus Beefcake? Of COURSE you do. Or Jake “the Snake” Roberts could sodomize one of the losers with his python. On national television.
Alright. Perhaps that’s going top far.
My point is, the Pro Bowl is awful. Nobody cares. That’s why that god-awful Napoleon Dynamite cartoon is probably going to rake in better ratings tomorrow night. Have you SEEN that shit? Ugh.
Get it together, NFL. Keep us satiated in that now-terrible week between the Championship Games and the Super Bowl. Don’t make me spend a Sunday evening talking to my wife, PLEASE.
(just kidding… love you, honey!)
[Hearne: edit that last part out. And don’t tell my wife I said it.]