Alternatives to the Pro Bowl

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.

Say Aloha to the 2013 Pro Bowl

The 2013 Pro Bowl will tack place in Aloha Stadium, Honolulu this Sunday at midnight Irish time. Each year the best players from each conference are voted by the players, coaches and fans of the NFL to play against each other in Hawaii.

Although by the time the Pro Bowl comes around the rosters are generally depleted by players becoming unavailable due to going to the Super Bowl or through injuries. This year 28 replacements have been already been called up, and more will probably be called up this week.

With the game itself being of a somewhat questionable standard in the last few years, Roger Goodell has questioned whether there is any point in actually playing the game, even agreeing that last year’s game was “embarrassing”.

Goodell said “If we cannot accomplish that kind of standard , I am inclined to not play it. It is really tough to force competition, and after a long season, to ask those guys to go out and play at the same level they played is really tough.”

Hopefully this year all the players take the stance Adrian Peterson has going into Sunday. Peterson has promised to “play hard”, stating “It is hard for me to play down because when you play down, you put yourself in jeopardy of getting hurt going through the motions. So I won’t be playing down”.

With everyone worried about the players’ safety in an exhibition match, there are different rules for the Pro Bowl:

  • No motion or shifting by the offense
  • Offense must have a tight end in all formations
  • Offense may not have three receivers on the same side
  • Intentional grounding is legal
  • Defense must run a 4–3 at all times
  • No press coverage except inside the five-yard line
  • No blitz
  • Not allowed to rush a punt, PAT or FG attempt
  • No calls can be challenged

The Pro Bowl is live on Sky Sports 1 with coverage starting at 11.30pm this Sunday. The two teams look like this at the moment:

Head Coach – John Fox (Denver)

Peyton Manning (QB – Denver)
Matt Schaub (QB – Houston)
Andrew Luck (QB – Indianapolis)

Arian Foster (RB – Houston)
Jamaal Charles (RB – Kansas)
C.J. Spiller (RB – Buffalo)

Marcel Reese (FB – Oakland)

A.J. Green (WR – Cincinnati)
Andre Johnson (WR – Houston)
Reggie Wayne (WR – Indianapolis)
Demaryius Thomas (WR – Denver)

Jermaine Gresham (TE – Cincinanti)
Owen Daniels (TE – Houston)

Joe Thomas (OT – Cleveland)
Duane Brown (OT – Houston)
Andrew Whitworth (OT – Cincinnati)

Richie Incognito (OG – Miami)
Wade Smith (OG – Houston)
Zane Beadles (OG – Denver)

Maurkice Pouncey (C – Pittsburgh)
Chris Myers (C – Houston)

J.J. Watt (DE – Houston)
Cameron Wake (DE – Miami)
Elvis Dumervil (DE – Denver)

Geno Atkins (DT – Cincinnati)
Kyle Williams (DT – Buffalo)
Randy Starks (DT – Miami)

Von Miller (OLB – Denver)
Tamba Hali (OLB – Kansas City)
Robert Mathis (OLB – Indianapolis)

Jerod Mayo (ILB – New England)
Derrick Johnson (ILB – Kansas City)

Champ Bailey (CB – Denver)
Johnathan Joseph (CB – Houston)
Antonio Cromartie (CB – NY Jets)

Jairus Byrd (FS – Buffalo)

LaRon Landry (SS – NY Jets)

Dustin Colquit (P – Kansas City)

Phil Dawson (K – Cleveland)

Josh Cribbs (KR – Cleveland)

Matthew Slater (Special Teams – New England)

John Denney (Long Snapper – Miami)

Head Coach – Mike McCarthy (Green Bay)

Drew Brees (QB – New Orleans)
Eli Manning (QB – NY Giants)
Russell Wilson (QB – Seattle)

Adrian Peterson (RB – Minnesota)
Marshawn Lynch (RB – Seattle)
Doug Martin (RB – Tampa Bay)

Jerome Felton (FB – Minnesota)

Brandon Marshall (WR – Chicago)
Julio Jones (WR – Atlanta)
Victor Cruz, (WR – NY Giants)
Vincent Jackson (WR – Tampa Bay)

Tony Gonzalez (TE – Atlanta)
Jason Witten (TE – Dallas)

Russell Okung (OT – Seattle)
Jermon Bushrod (OT – New Orleans)
Trent Williams (OT – Washington)

Josh Sitton (OG – Green Bay)
Jahri Evans (OG – New Orleans)
Chris Snee (OG – NY Giants)

Max Unger (C – Seattle)
Jeff Saturday (C – Green Bay)

Jason Pierre-Paul (DE – NY Giants)
Julius Peppers (DE – Chicago)
Jared Allen (DE – Minnesota)

Henry Melton (DT – Chicago)
Ndamukong Suh (DT – Detroit)
Gerald McCoy (DT – Tampa Bay)

Aldon Smith (OLB – San Francisco)
Chad Greenway (OLB – Minnesota)
Ryan Kerrigan (OLB – Washington)
Anthony Spencer (OLB – Dallas)

Daryl Washington (ILB – Arizona)
London Fletcher (ILB – Washington)

Charles Tillman (CB – Chicago)
Tim Jennings (CB – Chicago)
Patrick Peterson (CB – Arizona)

Earl Thomas (FS – Seattle)
Thomas DeCoud (FS – Atlanta)

William Moore (SS – Atlanta)

Thomas Morstead (P – New Orleans)

Blair Walsh (K – Minnesota)

Leon Washington (KR – Seattle)

Lorenzo Alexander (Speacial Teams – Washington)

Don Muhlbach (Long Snapper – Detroit)