A new layer has just been added to the convoluted method of determining the two teams that will face off in the Pro Bowl.
The NFL has announced that four players will be installed as captains of the two Pro Bowl teams: Drew Brees and Robert Quinn will be captains of one team, and Jamaal Charles and J.J. Watt will be captains of the other team. Those four were chosen because they were the top two vote getters on offense and defense among players whose teams aren’t playing in Sunday’s conference championship games.
Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders will choose the two rosters, and the pair of Brees and Quinn will be assigned to one of their teams, while the pair of Charles and Watt will be assigned to the other team. The NFL said in its announcement of the Pro Bowl captains that the four active player captains will “assist” Rice and Sanders in the Pro Bowl Draft to determine the two rosters.
All of this feels a little bit like the NFL is trying too hard to make the Pro Bowl interesting. Replacing the old AFC-NFC Pro Bowl format with the captains picking their teams won’t mean a thing if the players on the field treat the Pro Bowl like a joke. If Brees, Quinn, Charles and Watt can convince their teammates to play hard and treat the Pro Bowl like a real football game, maybe it makes sense to make them captains. But the reality is that the Pro Bowl is just an exhibition game that the players don’t much care about, and the team captains are just window dressing.