As interest in the Pro Bowl flags, there’s an easy addition to Pro Bowl weekend that the NFL could use to spice things up: A skills competition.
The other major sports all include a skills competition as part of their All-Star festivities. Baseball has the Home Run Derby. The NBA has the slam dunk and three-point contests. The NHL has the hardest shot, shooting accuracy and fastest skating contests.
The NFL has a more diverse collection of athletes than any of those sports and could therefore have a skills competition to beat them all. Competitions to determine the fastest player, the strongest lineman, the quarterback with the strongest arm, the kicker with the best accuracy, the receiver with the best hands and so on could be a fun element that might make both fans and players interested in Pro Bowl weekend.
There would, of course, be concerns about injuries. Then-Patriots running back Robert Edwards suffered a serious knee injury during a beach flag football game that was part of the Pro Bowl festivities in 1999, and that may scare the league away from adding to the Pro Bowl festivities. But if the right events are chosen, the skills competition would be safer than the Pro Bowl itself.
If something can’t be done to bolster interest in the Pro Bowl, the game itself may not last much longer. A skills competition could bring more eyes to the game — or replace the game with something better.