The NFL is contemplating getting rid of the Pro Bowl. The annual all-star game which has taken place since 1951 has turned into flag football. Players are not willing to risk injury by playing all out. Who can blame them? NFL contracts are not guaranteed. Why end your career in a game that means absolutely nothing?
Because of the players’ attitude, the NFL is thinking about doing away with the game. The league feels that a player not giving one hundred percent harms the integrity of the game. If the fans pay full price then they should get a legitimate contest (except for preseason games of course). The Pro Bowl has not been this in years.
If the league were to stop playing the Pro Bowl would fans miss it? Would it bother them to have one less football game to watch each season?
Would the players miss it? Many have incentive clauses in their contracts which pay them for making the Pro Bowl squad. Would they be upset at not being able to earn that bonus? Or would they be happy with the tradeoff of not having to put on the uniform one more time?
How would the television networks handle it? They pay a ton of money for NFL football. Fox, NBC and CBS know that even a game like the Pro Bowl will draw a higher rating than almost anything they air during the week. Would they be willing to give up that audience?
These are all questions the league has to answer before terminating the Pro Bowl. If they feel that there is no way that the game can go on in its current state then the NFL will have to make a decision soon.
One thing that the league should look into is something that no player in any sport would go for. The NFL should think about making the Pro Bowl winner take all. The team that wins gets paid while the losers do not. This seems the only way to get a genuine effort out of the players. If they know that something is truly at stake then they would give their all. No one wants to play for free.
All the NFL would have to do is take the amount of money that the winners and losers already get and give it to the winning team. The losers get nothing. This way the winners get more than they are already being paid.
Of course, the NFL Players Association would never go for this. They are not in the business of risking their client’s health and not have them compensated. The idea of an all-or-nothing Pro Bowl will never fly and is only a pipe dream. But unless someone can think of another way this might be the only thing that saves the game.
Think of the fan interest that this could create. NFL fans will watch any game that is competitive. If the Pro Bowl was made important again they would watch. In order to avoid making it bigger than the Super Bowl, simply continue to play it the week before the world’s championship game.
If the league is going to end the Pro Bowl they should at least look at every option first.
A winner take all game seems to be one that is pretty good.