NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell generally approved the play in last year’s Pro Bowl, a subtle affirmation that the league’s threats to the game’s future were noted.
But while the league’s still working on the particulars of the game for next year, there’s also some fiddling with the way teams are picked.
According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, one suggestion has been to let the players choose sides once they got to Hawaii, or wherever. It’s not a unique idea, as the NHL has already turned the all-star draft into a thing.
Turning the Pro Bowl into a schoolyard game of kickball (except the kickers would be picked last) would freshen up the process, and open the door for new means of marketing, such as picking captains or a rock-paper-scissors tournament.
Frankly, anything to add intrigue would be fine. Even though the television ratings are still good, the game itself hasn’t been much to watch in some time. Goodell can give the “good job, good effort” speech if he wants, but the nature of the game hasn’t changed.
Part of the reason the play declined in recent years, is too many players took the check and the resume line and didn’t bother playing. With a number of deep alternates becoming all-stars, some of the novelty was gone.
Choosing sides might restore some of that, and give more people reason to watch.