Within the space of 2 days we have seen over 20 changes to the original Pro-Bowl rosters. While some of these are unavoidable with teams progressing to the SuperBowl, the amount of drop outs because of “injury” is startling. Yesterday both Matt Ryan and Tom Brady dropped out with supposed injuries, but both their Head Coaches stated that they would have been available for the SuperBowl. While Ryan’s injury seems to be legitimate, Brady’s absence seems to be more along the lines of a veteran who clearly doesn’t care about the Pro-Bowl anymore. With this in mind, I’m going to put forward a few alternatives which could replace the Pro-Bowl and possibly give the fans something worth watching.
Rookie Bowl: Every year the same questions are asked about rookie players, are they as good as they looked or did they just benefit from the system they played in. This is where the Rookie Bowl could come in with fans and coaches being able to vote for the rosters like they are with the Pro-Bowl. With a lot of these guys still hungry to show what they can do, I guarantee this kind of game would have far less drop outs than the Pro Bowl. While making two 53 man rosters solely out of rookies would be difficult, the format could be extended to allow any first year player to be selected, e.g. Colin Kaepernick was selected in the 2011 draft but only saw limited action last year. Also this match could answer which guys have been the biggest busts as, for example, we might get the chance to see what Justin Blackmon could do with Andrew Luck slinging the ball at him.
Welcome to the NFL Bowl: The Senior Bowl is meant to operate like the Pro Bowl and give us the best collegiate seniors at each position. However similar to the Pro Bowl, it too is affected by drop outs with players being unwilling to risk their draft stock. An alternative to having two separate games with depleted rosters would be to combine them and have the 53 best players declaring for the next draft take on the 53 best players from the previous year’s draft. Again fans would be able to vote here and while college vs. NFL games in the past haven’t worked, this format would give college players a great chance to boost their stock.
Youth vs. Experience Bowl: Which is better in a wide receiver, youth or experience? What do you want in a quarterback, courage to take a risk or the awareness that the risk is too great? When do NFL players hit their peak? This match format could answer all these questions and more as we would have one all-rookie team face off against the Best of the NFL team. While this could have similar problems to the Pro-Bowl with players pulling out, I think the eagerness of the veterans to prove they’re still the top dogs would lead to less of these “injuries” that have plagued the Pro-Bowl.
No Bowl at all Bowl: Quite frankly in the last few years the Pro Bowl has been embarrassing. Centres have scored on 67 yard plays, tackles have been sidestepped far too easily and wide receivers barely face any pressure in making catches. For this reason how much longer are fans going to put up with paying for tickets or for subscription to watch the game? If the players don’t want to be there, simply cancel the game. Still have a format where fans can vote for the teams but just don’t play the game.
This year will be crucial for the Pro-Bowl, one more year of sloppy performances and the NFL will likely put a stop to it. These are only a few of the possible alternatives so get commenting below if you think you can fix this broken format. Finally for more NFL related news you can follow me on twitter @barry_aldworth.