Michael Irvin and Jerry Rice drafted their teams yesterday to set up for one of the least exciting football games of the year: The NFL Pro Bowl.
In years past, the Pro Bowl was held the weekend after the Super Bowl to give everyone more time to not only prepare and cover the Super Bowl, but also to build hype for one last go around for the year’s best players.
It was the NFL fan’s last ditch effort to watch quality NFL action for one more time in a game that really doesn’t matter, so it’s bound to create some crazy play calls so this group of insane athletes can display their talents one more time before everyone goes into their respective hibernating holes for the winter.
Participation has been declining year after year and this season especially has been historic in dropouts. Last year a modest 13 players declined, however, this year it is closer to 50.
Players who decline to play are given an alternate and the record of total players voted in and their alternates was 119 and was set back in 2009. This year, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, 133 total players were needed to fill this year’s rosters.
Obviously the Panthers and Broncos’ players won’t play due to their Super Bowl berth, but they only account for 14 of those not able to play. So many more just aren’t going to take the extra money incentive that they receive for the nomination (granted $60,000 to the winner and $20,000 for the loser doesn’t make that much of an impact on the wallets of millionaires) for a plethora of different reasons.
Other players do have legitimate injuries to take care of, but so many more are dropping out because it just isn’t good football anymore. It isn’t exciting enough and nobody really takes it all the seriously.
However, from a ratings perspective, people are still tuning in and watching. They may not actively be watching and very well could just be complaining the entire time, but on paper, it’s drawing viewers.
Seeing as how the NFL is really just one big business, they aren’t going to be scrapping it any time soon.
Knowing they’re not going to get rid of it completely, they’re going to need to change the style of play. It’s not like they went into the draft begging Eli Manning, Derek Carr, Russell Wilson and Teddy Bridgewater to be the faces of the two offenses.
Those names aren’t going to be the ones getting people racing to their TV’s to watch the game. But they can be; if they want to use lower level guys don’t call it a Pro Bowl. Change the draft to pick younger guys for the most part and put them on display to show promise for the coming years of the NFL.
If they want to attract the actual big names of this league, they need to change the game first to make it more exciting and for more people to watch it in order for them to actually have the desire to go and play.
They could turn the game into a seven on seven competition without pads to create big plays and linemen at the skill positions. Watching linemen score is one of the best things in football so why not line a couple up on the outside against Charles Woodson and Richard Sherman?
That may not have to be the main event, but there is an idea to use the rest of the weekend to create a skills competition type thing. Trick throws, trick catches, obstacle courses, stuff you can only do when you have the time and area to do it.
Now that it’s far too close to change anything for the coming couple of years, this year’s two teams look good on paper to put up some points.
Jerry Rice drafted Eli Manning as his QB1 with Adrian Peterson, Doug Martin and Chris Ivory splitting time in the back field and Jarvis Landry, Amari Cooper and T.Y. Hilton split out wide. “Bully” Richie Incognito, Logan Mankins, Nick Mangold and Joe Thomas highlight the offensive line for Team Rice.
Defensively, he picked up Julius Peppers, Khalil Mack, Clay Matthews, Bobby Wagner, Vontae Davis, Brent Grimes and Eric Berry to name a handful that will be playing alongside the Hall of Famer Charles Woodson.
Michael Irvin chose Russell Wilson with the top pick in the draft to throw to Julio Jones, A.J. Green, DeAndre Hopkins and Allen Robinson with Todd Gurley and Latavius Murray in the backfield. Alex Mack was the only name to stick out but who really watches the line in a Pro Bowl game? (Shoutout to my linemen though, thanks for blocking for me, don’t eat me please.)
Irvin’s defense is just as mediocre with big names, featuring Carlos Dunlap, Sean Lee, NaVorro Bowman, Richard Sherman and Malcolm Jenkins. Adam “Pacman” Jones fell ass-backwards into a spot after every other cornerback declined to go so why not pick him up, right, Mike?
At the end of the day we have this same conversation at the end of every year as we await this game. Hopefully somebody will finally take notice and until then here’s to hoping they change something to make it more exciting and watchable.
For now, let’s enjoy what football we have left before we wait on the Red Sox, I can almost hear Dirty Water in the distance.
By Cole McNanna