It’s late January and your quarterback is dropping back looking to pass. Out of the corner of his eye he sees a defensive back closing in on him. The quarterback has no time to react as he disappears under a mountain of shoulder pads and helmets.Much to your horror he fails to get up and even worse, looks hurt. At least you can say your team got to the playoffs, right? Wrong, to add insult to injury your Pro Bowl quarterback just got injured during a meaningless game at the end of the NFL season. No, your Pro Bowl quarterback isn’t playing for pride at the end of your team’s regular season schedule that won’t include a trip to the playoffs to boot. He’s playing in the Pro Bowl.
This “scenario” isn’t something I concocted up to keep me up at night screaming into my pillow, it actually happened. In 2007 Drew Brees was picked as the top quarterback in the NFC and subsequently was named 1st team for the Pro Bowl. Only after playing through two series Drew Brees was taken down and dislocated his elbow. Luckily for the Saints and Brees it was only a dislocation of the left elbow. The injury didn’t affect him the following season. Ever since then all the players in the Pro Bowl have given less than 100 percent. Actually most fans would be hard pressed to tell you that the Pro Bowlers gave 50 percent last year.
In 2012′s Pro Bowl it was clear that most of the players involved for the NFC and some for the AFC didn’t have their hearts into playing for the enjoyment of the fans. The Pro Bowl is an incentive that many players strive for every year out of financial incentive and personal. Once that goal is reached the players have to make sure that they don’t catastrophically injury themselves so that they will be able to come back for the next season. It’s a farce and will continue to be until Roger Goodell figures out how to “make” the players play hard. The question everyone should be asking isn’t why aren’t they playing hard, but why is the league so hell bent to have this game? The NFL’s Pro Bowl is at the end of the season for all, but the two teams that will be in the Super Bowl that year.The Pro Bowl is the NFL’s answer to Major League Baseball’s mid summer classic or at least tries to be. The Pro Bowl has become meaningless, but it wasn’t always such a farce.
In the beginning in 1939 the Pro Bowl was an exhibition game between the league’s best players on one team pitted against the NFL’s champion of the season. This was changed in 1950 to avoid any confusion with the Chicago College All-Star Game, an annual game at the time which featured the NFL champion against the collegiate all-star team.
Nowadays the Pro Bowl is a four hour live exercise of watching NFL players trying to avoid ending up like Joe Theisman à la Lawrence Taylor. It doesn’t make sense to have it anymore. It prolongs the season for 30 teams and all those involved. The only reason they have the game anymore is to put more money in the pockets of the NFL executives and some vendors. The NFL Pro Bowl is equivalent to taking a Ferrari out for no other reason other than to see if you can do a little off-roading without breaking anything noticeable. But, who in their right mind would do that? Roger Goodell? No, not him, his decisions to steer the league and those in it down the right course have never been in question. There is one thing you can count on come Pro Bowl Sunday. The players will more than likely join you in watching the game.