Admit it. The Pro-Bowl is hard to watch. You want to watch it if for no other reason you won’t see football again for several months. It’s the tongue in cheek game after the Super Bowl. The one that doesn’t matter. So much so that you have no idea what will happen. For instance an NFC Pro-Bowl center may take the field to snap the ball to a future HOF QB as he plays his last snap in the NFL. Referring to Jeff Saturday’s snap to Peyton Manning in last years game of course. Or maybe you get to see that the coaches could care less as well. Remember former Dallas Cowboy’s coach Barr Switzer eating a hotdog during the game? And that was back when both teams still tried.
Well not only do the player not try any more but the reality is that the NFL’s version of the “All-Star” game has become nothing more than a free ride to Hawaii. Now the NFL wants you to buy into their new style of Pro-Bowl. With sweeping changes being made across the game the NFL’s final game will look nothing like the game it has been.
For starters, there will no longer be players divided by conference. So no AFC vs. NFC as it were. Color me so far…not impressed.
If that didn’t impress me then having Dion Sanders and Jerry Rice involved in the next change really doesn’t impress me. The teams will now be divided by a “draft” that will be determined, at least for 2014 by the top two NFL.com Fantasy Football top scorers (make sure you read the full rules and the tie-breakers), along with the two top vote getters (guess they won’t be on the same team), and the aforementioned Rice and Sanders…is it just me or is Dion Sanders getting way too much face time these days? So the teams will be voted on and then a “draft” will be held to divide them up equally. Yeah, I’m not impressed with that either.
While all of us fans will still be asked to go to NFL.com and “cast your vote” as will coaches and players, there is no guarantee that an equal number of players from the AFC will play with the NFC or vice versa. The NFL has decided that only the top vote getters at each position will get in and that all players will be lumped together. What this means is that one conference may send 80% of a position to the game while the other sends 20%. Say there were 5 QB’s from each conference last year, next year it could be that the NFC sends 7 QB’s and the AFC only 3. While I understand that this would give the top players in the game the best chance to actually make the game (and I’m all for that) it takes away from the us vs. you concept of having two different conferences.
With all these changes it’s still unlikely to make the product on the field any more enjoyable for the fan unless they like watching games that put up close to 100 points combined. While the NFL contended that these…high scoring affairs were ridiculous, some of the “rule” changes on the field will potentially allow teams to put up even more points.
One such rule is that no team can simply sit on the ball to drain the clock. Each quarter will end with it’s own 2-minute warning and any negative play will stop the clock. They call it a “quick strike drive” because at the end of that quarter, the team with the ball has to give it to the other team to start the next one.
Each drive will start off at the 25 yard line. Yep, no more kick-offs. At all. So now those two special teams return guys who had amazing years in the games that actually meant something will be sitting at home instead of pool side in paradise. There positions will be given to two extra CB’s presumably who will at least return punts. Is this a tryout for the NFL to eliminate kick-offs all together? Don’t be surprised if we don’t see more talk about this in the years to come.
The league is at least allowing cover-2 and press coverage for the defense now. In the past it was man-to-man only.
So sweeping changes to a game that many have lost interest in. Changes that many will watch initially to see if it sparks any interest. Will the NFL hold a televised “Pro-Bowl Draft” on NFL Network? Will they have a two-hour primetime block dedicated to talking about the fantasy football winners first ten selections and more importantly, when they do and you know at some point they will, can the hosts conduct themselves with a straight face the entire time?
Yeah, the Pro-Bowl doesn’t really impress me and the changes made to this year game doesn’t impress me much either. But if you actually took the time to find all of these changes interesting enough to read through all of this and make it to this very last line of this article…then THAT has impressed me!