Great news: Pitiful sporting event likely to be canceled

In an age when left and right agree on so little, my friends, let’s at least agree on this.

Many players who will be selected during this week’s NFL draft are regarded as future Pro Bowl selections, but the game itself likely will be suspended this season and beyond, according to league sources…

If the game is suspended, the league still would have a Pro Bowl balloting process to identify the season’s top players and would direct teams to remain open to negotiating Pro Bowl clauses into player contracts and to honor Pro Bowl incentive and escalator clauses to avoid any serious conflict with the players association. Those players also likely would be honored in some fashion during Super Bowl week.

The league and union held discussions last week on whether the Pro Bowl can become more attractive but neither side has embraced an alternative solution, sources said. Both sides also concede that heightened player health and safety issues have been a contributing factor to a diminished product.

Over at NBC’s “Pro Football Talk” site, the online poll on whether to cancel the game is currently split 82/17 in favor of euthanasia. I’ll neither confirm nor deny that I’ve ever watched the Pro Bowl, but if I’ve watched, then hypothetically I might have wondered if the game would actually be better as flag football. With the fear of brute contact gone, guys could play harder. You’d tune in to watch the NFL’s best and brightest using rules designed for eight-year-olds, right?

In honor of the occasion, here’s one of my all-time favorite Onion vids. Question: Is there any way to make this game kinda sorta competitive? There are plenty of other things the league could do the week before the Super Bowl to pique fans’ interest — here’s one — but if they’re intent on keeping the Pro Bowl, their options are slim. One obvious possibility is paying giant bonuses to the winners. To America’s everlasting shame, the Pro Bowl actually gets higher ratings than baseball’s All-Star Game; a newly competitive Pro Bowl would get higher ratings still. Give the winning side an enormous chunk of the ad revenue. The other possibility that occurs to me is following baseball’s lead by rewarding the winning side with some sort of home-field advantage. That won’t work for the Super Bowl since it’s played on a neutral field, but what if teams in the winning conference got an extra home game the following season against teams in the losing conference? I doubt that’d fly since there’s likely too much money to be lost in playing seven games at home instead of eight, but if you want a competitive game, that’d do it. Any other ideas? Surely there are ways to make this embarrassing spectacle slightly less embarrassing.

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David Strom 8:41 PM on January 30, 2023