The Pro Bowl. To some, it is a great event where the stars of the NFL are recognized for their talents and play some football with teammates they don’t normally play with. To others, it is a 3-hour glorified exhibition game where not all the real talent play because they are playing one week later for a bigger prize, the Lombardi Trophy.
The game has had a tough time bringing in viewers and has tried multiple things to try and boost ratings and keep the All-Star game going strong. It doesn’t seem like it’s enough and we may be on the verge of losing the game. As I was watching the game on Sunday, I thought about what would make the Pro Bowl weekend more of a draw and here are just a few ideas that I thought about.
The Pro Bowl: How To Fix A Broken Product
Celebrity Flag-Football Game
I know that there are some celebrity flag-football games that exist, but bring the game to the weekend of the Pro-Bowl similar to how the NBA and MLB do theirs. It would be great to see a mix of former NFL players team up with celebrities who love the game or just love playing the game. Seeing the likes of Andrew Luck throwing bombs to Macklemore, or Rob Riggle getting picked off by Charles Woodson. It would all be in good fun and I think bring some more excitement to the entire weekend.
Expand On The Skills Challenge
Here is where the NFL is having some success. Last year, they introduced the Skills Challenge which was a series of events that tested skills that are present during an NFL game, to an extent. We saw things like precision passing for quarterbacks, best hands for receivers (including the different types of catches like one-handed and sideline) and a gauntlet testing speed and agility for a team of players/positions.
To cap it all off, a dodgeball game for fun. Now I loved this idea and I think they can expand on the skills because we are in an era of football where the skill set of the modern athlete has drastically increased. Bring back elements from the now-defunct Quarterback Challenge which tested mobility, arm strength, and accuracy for quarterbacks. They can also bring in some elements from the combine like a 40-yard dash, bench press, and other position related drills. This Pro Bowl skills challenge is a great first step and now I think they can develop it further.
Banish The Game…Kinda
Now I know this article is about improving the game, but maybe the best solution is to eliminate the game to an extent. They can take a page from the NHL All-Star game and create a tournament between divisions. The format is teams created from the four divisions face off against each other in a 3-on-3 format and a team is crowned champions while splitting a $1 million paycheck amongst the 11 players on the team.
This is something that could be done in the NFL as well, forming a team from the north, south, east, and west and having a 7-on-7 flag football tournament. They can make it run longer as well by having eight teams representing the division in each conference or making it a true team tournament by having each team field a team of seven players. I would love to see the likes of Jimmy Garoppolo hitting Joe Staley on a quick slant, Khalil Mack trying to scramble away from Aaron Rodgers in the pocket, and Matt Ryan trying to pick-off Cam Newton.
The NFL can really take strides to make their All-Star game a more entertaining product and maybe these ideas are not golden, but they’re certainly things that should be considered to bring in more ratings to a game that is close to being shut down. Let’s bring the fun and competitive spirit back to the Pro Bowl weekend!