As part of the effort to make the Pro Bowl less unwatchable, the NFL has fashioned another three-hour block of unwatchable television.
The league has announced that the first-ever Pro Bowl draft will be televised on Wednesday, January 22. The event will come a day after the teams, led by Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders, draft 11 players who play the least interesting positions — guard, center, fullback, interior defensive linemen, punter, and special teams.
Those players will walk the red carpet at the site of the made-for-TV Wednesday night draft, which should help chew up a few of the 180 minutes devoted to the effort.
Once finalized, the teams will “practice” on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday before “playing” on Sunday.
The new approach won’t make the players play any harder. Which continues to be the biggest problem with the Pro Bowl.
Indeed, Rice himself — who will have a key role in the reconfigured, no-conference-affiliation Pro Bowl — has said that he doesn’t think the changes will work.
“You’ve got prima donnas, egocentrics, who act like it’s not an honor,” Rice said earlier this year, 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.”
It’ll never be accomplished as long as players who have made it through a regular season and, for many, part of a postseason healthy enough to suit up and play to play so hard that they risk spending the offseason rehabbing and injury and, for some, squandering a free-agency payday.