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Jerry Rice doesn’t think changes will save Pro Bowl

JerryRiceGetty Getty Images

The NFL recently announced a series of changes to the Pro Bowl in hopes of boosting interest in the oft-criticized contest.

One player who was named to the Pro Bowl team 13 times doesn’t think that eliminating kickoffs, picking teams in a schoolyard style or additional two-minute drills are going to do the trick. Jerry Rice, who will serve as an honorary captain for the 2014 game, shares the opinion of fellow Hall of Famer John Madden that the game will only become more compelling if players take the game more seriously than they have in recent years.

“You’ve got prima donnas, egocentrics, who act like it’s not an honor,” Rice said, via Jarrett Bell of USA Today. “Plus, they’re thinking, ‘Why should I go and jeopardize what I’m doing?’ But it should be for the fans.¬†How can you get the players to recognize that it’s an honor? You’ve got to play your best football in the Pro Bowl. So the spirit of this needs to be changed. I’m not sure that can be accomplished now.”

Rice balked at the idea that players have too much at stake to risk injury in a meaningless game, arguing that you can get hurt walking down the stairs and saying that players in his era treated Pro Bowl selections with honor. While Rice is right about the possibility of injury happening at any time, even if he’d have to concede that it is more likely when engaged in a game against players blocking and tackling you, it’s hard to remember a time when the Pro Bowl was played with anything close to the intensity of an actual football game.

That said, Rice and Madden are correct about the correlation between effort levels and the watchability of the game. The changes to the game actually appear to move things in the opposite direction by making it less like a competitive football game and more like an exhibition which suggests that we’re not on the verge of changes to the “spirit of this” that Rice believes are necessary.

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29 Responses to “Jerry Rice doesn’t think changes will save Pro Bowl”
  1. bettis3636 says: Aug 4, 2013 1:22 PM

    I agree… these players arent worried about this game.. and they arent even fun to watch.

  2. sampsonswag01 says: Aug 4, 2013 1:28 PM

    Of course the changes won’t save the Pro Bowl. NOBODY wants to experience or see a player get hurt over a pointless game. Why can’t the league make the game a ceremonial event without the game itself???

    In fact the NFL would be further distancing itself from the other sports leagues by NOT having an All-Star game which would only continue to advance the uniqueness of the brand image of the NFL from the other sports.

    Continue to have players receive the honor of Pro-Bowler but cease the game already.

  3. slbasegame257 says: Aug 4, 2013 1:28 PM

    I take it back, Peterson actually got 5 carries for 13 yards and he was the MVP! No commitment to running the ball at the pro bowl.

  4. doomsdayZen says: Aug 4, 2013 1:30 PM

    They should turn it into an Olympic-style athlete vs athlete competition so players can brag about who is the best. Have the running backs compete in an obstacle course, have the QB’s compete for accuracy and distance, have the linemen compete in strength competitions, etc.

  5. redngold1 says: Aug 4, 2013 1:38 PM

    The NFL should do away with the “game”. Make an awards show with video clips of the winners. Like they do at the Academy Awards or the HOF Induction Ceremony.

  6. slew55 says: Aug 4, 2013 1:41 PM

    Picking teams and going out and playing flag football isn’t going to make it more interesting for me. Recognize players by naming them to the teams if you want but stop insulting the game we all love. Can we please just stop playing the game?

  7. Stiller43 says: Aug 4, 2013 1:42 PM

    They should scrap the pro bowl and just do skills competitions.

    Those were way more interesting than the game itself anyway. Then theres no more fake practices, 3% effort in a fake game…

  8. romoscollarbone says: Aug 4, 2013 1:44 PM

    I watched Michael Irvin’s road to canton yesterday and he spoke about going all out at the pro bowl to show Jerry Rice that he belonged. I believe that was 94.

  9. 49erstim says: Aug 4, 2013 1:46 PM

    I miss the good ol days of the QB competition and skills challenges. I’d like an NBA style day like their All Star Saturday Night thing.

  10. granadafan says: Aug 4, 2013 1:48 PM

    Typical NFL. They think that gimmicks are what fans want.

  11. brucealmty says: Aug 4, 2013 1:51 PM

    The winners of the Nobel are not asked to perform; give these guys their recognition and let them go swimming.

  12. thestrategyexpert says: Aug 4, 2013 2:12 PM

    The NFL really needs to come up with better and more extensive changes to the event. Maybe in 2015 they’ll come up with some really good ideas. The NFL execs should stop wearing helmets on the job and strap on some thinking caps instead.

  13. philyeagles5 says: Aug 4, 2013 2:25 PM

    Save the pro bowl? If it was really doing so bad, it would’ve been scrapped awhile ago. Someone’s watching it.

  14. philyeagles5 says: Aug 4, 2013 2:25 PM

    Save the pro bowl? If it was really doing so bad, it would’ve been scrapped awhile ago. Someone’s watching it.

  15. lioncrazy says: Aug 4, 2013 2:35 PM

    The game isn’t worth watching. Just get rid of it.

  16. bdp81 says: Aug 4, 2013 2:35 PM

    Jerry Rice is completely right with this. I remember watching the pro bowl as a kid like it was another Super Bowl. I loved seeing the best of the best going 100% because that’s what made them the best. I still have that little kid in me that wants to watch it but every year I can’t even get threw the first half before I turn it off. The competitiveness just isn’t there anymore.

  17. packerbackernj says: Aug 4, 2013 3:05 PM

    Meaning, NFC wins, NFC probowler’s next year salary gets guaranteed.

  18. riverhorsey says: Aug 4, 2013 3:11 PM

    The NFL doesn’t need the pro bowl game.

    As a fan I could care less about it and as a fan I don’t want a guy that plays for my team getting hurt in it.

  19. 44mpo says: Aug 4, 2013 3:13 PM

    Too bad there isn’t a blood test they can give the players to detect those who truely love the game as oposed to those who are only in it for the money. Get those players who love the game in it and I think you’d have a heck of a good game.

  20. JSpicoli says: Aug 4, 2013 3:18 PM

    It doesn’t take a brain wiz to figure that out. Both Jerry Rice and myself could figure that one out.

  21. Square Peg, Round Hole says: Aug 4, 2013 3:33 PM

    If you suffer an injury at the pro bowl that costs you part of or the entire season, pay the player in his salary plus whatever workout bonuses he misses out on. It should be that simple. Then again, the Pro Bowl is unwatchable for the most part, because of the approach by today’s generation of players.

  22. bmfwest says: Aug 4, 2013 3:39 PM

    Dear GOAT,
    Love u man, u were the greatest. However, u got no biz talking about another players ego, Mr. ” I should have had the SB MVP instead of Joe Montana.” And we all know how greedy u were with the ball, just ask JT.

  23. kylexitron says: Aug 4, 2013 3:48 PM

    players are never ever going to give up their bodies in an exhibition game celebrating their achievements. The only reason pre-season is remotely watchable is because I love seeing young guys you know are out there playing their butts off trying to earn a roster spot.

    I actually love the new format, up until you get to the actual game, then it stops mattering. I like having fans and alum draft teams because they might see players differently than the predictable way pro bowl voting always goes.

    Instead of having an actual game though they’d be better off teaming up with EA and letting those players just play a game of Madden or something. I realize not every football fan cares about madden but not every football fan cares about the pro-bowl, and in fact hardcore fans actually hate it. So why not at least put something out there where we can see what players are like while socializing and playing a video game. It would be at least somewhat more entertaining than watching players try not to try very hard.

  24. monkeyhateclean says: Aug 4, 2013 4:25 PM

    a skills-type competition would have the same problem–the risk of pulling a hamstring or tearing a ligament is too great for a game that has no meaning. remember that NE rb who tore up his knee during a touch football game–played on a sandy beach. that ended his career.

    there’s really no way to make vets play hard, so maybe they should try to incorporate players trying to make the league. I know the NCAA would throw a tantrum about “corrupting” their student-athletes , but as has been shown in the past, wave enough money in their faces and you get what you want.

  25. dallascowboysdishingthereal says: Aug 4, 2013 4:31 PM

    Not sure exactly when the Pro Bowl became a joke but that’s where we are today and all the changes are just treating the symptoms.

  26. GenXJay says: Aug 5, 2013 6:26 AM

    have a slam-dunk contest on goal-posts. That’ll light a fire underneath this dead horse of an issue.

  27. aldante66 says: Aug 5, 2013 1:12 PM

    I would like to see a skills like competition for money. QB’s throwing balls through tires and stuff like that.

    Look, no pro bowl quality player is going to play in a game where they could easily get a lifetime injury of tear something and miss the next season. Not happening. Your career is on the line.

    Make it a fun day for the players and the fans and forget the idea of a pro bowl no one wants to play in.

  28. jollyjoker2 says: Aug 6, 2013 1:50 PM

    Winner take all the cash by AFC team or NFC .. play for nothing or play for it all. Then, I think you would get some competition on both sides.

  29. jprcox says: Aug 6, 2013 3:52 PM

    I really don’t understand the fuss. The Pro-Bowl gets good ratings, and its more about the ceremony than the actual game. I don’t watch the Pro-Bowl for “serious” football. I watch it as some form of entertainment. Some people watch “pro” wrestling, and to me the Pro Bowl is better than that.

    I think the NFL should look at individual competitions like they used to have (throwing contests etc) to make some element of the Pro Bowl competitive. No reason to cancel the game, as its a money maker – and I would rather watch the Pro Bowl than some reality TV show.

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