Whither the Pro Bowl?
posted at 11:37 am on April 26, 2012 by Steve Eggleston
The NFL has become so big that even Draft Day, er, Night has become an event, and not just for New York Jets fans. However, one tradition appears to have had its last trip out of the tunnel. From ESPN:
The next Pro Bowl is scheduled the week before the Super Bowl in New Orleans on Feb. 3, but a game site has not been listed because of its precarious status, sources added.
Sources say that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who has previously voiced his displeasure with the lack of competitiveness in recent Pro Bowl games, is strongly considering suspending this year’s game, sources say.
Beyond 2013, another league source believes the Pro Bowl is “DOA (dead on arrival).”
One could argue what has caused the lack of fire in the players who show up (and indeed the decades-long tradition of some of the top players using the usual wear and tear from an NFL season as a reason to not play one more game). One could point to the end-of-the-season date (until recently, after even the Super Bowl), the week-long vacation in Hawaii, the basic fact that a week just isn’t long enough to put together more than a basic game plan, or the unique-to-the-Pro-Bowl anti-defense rules (a base 4-3 defense, no blitzing outside of short-yardage situations, and no bump-and-run coverage outside the shadow of the defense’s end zone), and one would probably be right. Then again, the NBA All-Star Game has been nothing more than a “Can you top this” offensive contest for years, and NBA Commissioner David Stern isn’t considering axing it.
The ratings don’t appear to be much an issue; even though the Pro Bowl typically draws fewer viewers than a “national” regular-season game, it outdraws other sports’ all-star games. Money, or at least the money paid out to the players, isn’t exactly a factor either – if memory serves, the winners get less than $60,000 and the losers half that. In fact, ESPN is reporting that the NFL would be directing teams to keep negotiating Pro Bowl clauses into player contracts as the NFL would be doing everything but travel to Hawaii.