John Madden: Pro Bowl will matter when players try

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John Madden coached the AFC team in five Pro Bowls, so he knows something about trying to get players motivated to play in an exhibition game. And Madden says that whether or not the players will be motivated to play will determine whether the Pro Bowl is a game worth keeping.

Asked on SiriusXM NFL Radio about the new rules about having team captains pick the Pro Bowl team, Madden said it won’t matter until the players really want to work hard on the field.

“If they’re going to have captains and pick teams and stuff, I think that’s minutia — I don’t think that means anything,” Madden said. “It’s still going to be how they play the game. Two years ago it was terrible, and it was embarrassing. Everyone agreed it was embarrassing, including the players who played in it. Something had to be done. It couldn’t go on that way. Last year I thought they played a little harder. Whether you have captains and you pick or whatever, it’s still going to boil down to how they play the game.”

Madden said the players have every reason not to put their bodies on the line for the Pro Bowl, but the game won’t be interesting if the players don’t try.

“I understand the reasons they don’t — if you get through a season and you’re healthy and you want to stay that way, there are a lot of reasons,” Madden said. “But if those reasons become too strong then we probably ought to consider doing away with the Pro Bowl.”

And if the latest Pro Bowl innovations don’t improve the quality of the game, doing away with the Pro Bowl may be the next step.

27 responses to “John Madden: Pro Bowl will matter when players try

  1. I think the league ought to do away with it anyway. It hasn’t been meaningful for years. Players don’t play and it’s turned into a glorified version of flag football. And with the cost of modern contracts, the money players are paid for showing up (notice I didn’t say “play”) is mere pocket change these days.

    All the players want is to go to Hawaii on the League’s dime. They can do that, get a check, and not subject we fans to a farce.

  2. If they want the players to try, then the league needs to pay them. Same story as the dunk contest.

  3. yeah Defensive Ends standing up and tickling qb’s instead of tackling doesn’t interest anyone.. however it’s about the money, nobody wants to get hurt in a meaningless game… why can’t people just view it for what it is.. a fun pick up game that’s not going to offer any intensity … especially when you have the biggest games of the year smacked in between

  4. The results from every poll I saw online asking if the new format would interest the taker indicated that a majority of fans still wouldn’t be interested. Did the NFL even consider what the fans were saying on this one or just move along with a bad plan? I personally don’t care who picks the teams. If they have no incentive to play it is still a boring game.

  5. The only thing the pro bowl needs is a drive for the players. In other words if it actually mattered or affected the playoffs like baseball does you would get a way better turn out. It doesn’t have to be as crucial as deciding who gets home field advantage, just something that is actually worth playing for.

  6. Madden, the pro bowl will matter when the fans actually care about it.

    When someone gets serious hurt…the pro bowl will be anandoned faster then the NFL Rookie Sand Flag Football when Robert Edwards blew his knee out and Edwards almost had his leg amputied below his knee.

    John Madden, the Pro Bowl doesn’t matter. And is only still around because some NFL player has yet to get seriously hurt.

  7. Why not pay the players on the winning team a lot more money – something substantial – and pay the players on the losing team nothing. That would probably motivate players to play harder.

  8. The game itself serves no purpose so do away with it. Injuries happen if a player plays hard, see this pre-season, and what happens if a player becoming a FA suffers an ACL or other injury. Do away with the pro-bowl.

  9. Here is a solution that will work…

    Move the Pro Bowl to the Preseason, and play it before the Hall of Fame game. Here is why it will work.

    1) Hall of Fame inductees will get a trip to Hawaii

    2) You will get the best players to play because
    a) They can sweat in training camp
    b) Get a weeks vacation in Hawaii

    3) They will play with more passion because they will be playing in front of, and for, Hall of Famers.

    4) Fans will be starving for football at this time

    Since players won’t be playing anymore than they normally would there would be no more injury risk than they would be exposed to during any other preseason game.

    That’s it. Not a perfect solution by a long shot, but it’s better than having fans play fantasy football with the Pro Bowl.

  10. Change the rules stating that the winner of the Pro Bowl (AFC or NFC) will automatically receive the ball in the 1st and 3rd quarter to start the Super Bowl and maybe even give the winner of the Pro Bowl 3 or 4 points to start the Superbowl.

    Or give the winner in the Pro Bowl all the money and the loser gets nothing.

  11. When will millionaires on a paid vacation to Hawaii after work is over care about working hard?

    The Pro Bowl is to NFL Players is like me getting paid $25,000 to go to Happy Hour on a Friday at 5:30.

  12. “I understand the reasons they don’t — if you get through a season and you’re healthy and you want to stay that way.”

    This is it right here. You can try a bit more than the game a couple of years ago, but yeah, it isn’t worth getting injured, or even risking injury. What about the free agents? Who is going to pay them if they get injured in this game. Remember Robert Edwards? He got injured during a Pro Bowl flag football game and didn’t play in another game for 4 years!

    What about this – if the NFL gave EVERY player a $1.5 – 2 million insurance policy for serious injuries. Now, that would solve part of the problem (of course like any insurance policy they would do their damnedest to keep from paying out). With the insurance policy it would protect the players. If they did get hurt and they were free agents they wouldn’t get the big contract, but they would get something. If you want competition in an All Star game NFL , then put your money where your mouth is.

  13. I like the changes because it gives fans something to discuss for a couple weeks, but I don’t see any upgrade to the actual game play itself.

  14. The only way players will risk their body for the Pro Bowl game is if the NFL guarantees their contracts for injuries sustained during the game or practices for the game.

    If I were a player, I would not risk my career on an exhibition game and, as a fan, I wouldn’t want to see a key player for my team go down with a torn ACL during the Pro Bowl because he was trying to make a play.

  15. It’s far more complicated than guys just trying. The rules are intentionally set up to keep players from going all out because they don’t want to see guys get hurt. (And guys naturally don’t want to get hurt, which is a big reason they don’t try.)

    Let’s imagine a receiver getting completely blown up over the middle of the field by a guy going just as hard as he does during the regular season. Or a QB being crushed from the blind side. Nobody wants to see that happen, but that is what guys really tryig their hardest would mean.

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