NFL should add a skills competition at the Pro Bowl

Getty Images

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.

117 responses to “NFL should add a skills competition at the Pro Bowl

  1. I may be wrong here. But I’m nearly certain their used to be a skills aspect to the pro bowl. I remember elway throwing at moving targets with points and everyone being in Hawaiian shirts. I could be way off but I swear I remember this.

  2. Teams and players are simply too worried about getting injuries. Brady, Rodgers, etc still wouldn’t participate in a skills competition. At the end of the year, players by in large don’t want to participate in anything of risk that doesn’t matter. It likely wouldn’t increase anything. It might be more interesting to watch for the public but that is about it. Maybe its something people could bet on. Players would likely give the same amount of effort.

    We’re stuck with the pro bowl until the ratings tank. When it is no longer viable monetarily, then all the nonsense will go away.

  3. I’ve been saying this for years. Similar to how the NBA has skills challenges. Stuff like best end celebration, target practice, running back obstacle courses etc. it’ll make for a much more interesting pro bowl weekend.

  4. Who doesn’t want to see the 40 yd dash? With bragging
    rights for the year…

    Involve $$$ prizes, and some $$$ for charity? Win win.

  5. Just bring back all the competitions from “Superstars”, but only with NFL players.

    And I bet Herschel Walker would still beat everyone. In fact, they could have past legends just compete against current stars. I’d love to see Joe Montana take on Aaron Rodgers in a QB Competition type game.

  6. I have been saying it for years the QB Competion that use to be shown years ago with golf carts with targets and the farthest throw was fun to watch. I even think a video game was made for it.

    It would be all sorts of fun til someone goes all Brad Johnson on the longest throw and heaves it down the field 39 yards like Theodore Bridgewater.

  7. Need to bring back the Superstars show concept in some capacity. Maybe get EA to sponsor it and have a wholesale combine for the pro bowl and top tier players which will be used in next years game ratings.

    I mean crap, you have ESPN showing MLG matches so mind as well jump the shark.

  8. Nothing is going to make the Pro Bowl relevant at this point. Just get rid of the damn thing.

  9. The NFL should drop the Pro Bowl entirely. It serves no useful purpose other than another game.

  10. Good thing Cam Newton won’t be there. This way white boys won’t have anything to complain about. Then, when Brady disrespects the officials, they can say “look at his passion for the game!!!”

  11. I would rather watch the all pro player have a two day golf tournament. I mean, the fastest player is probably a second string running back, the strongest player is probably a backup guard that nobody’s ever heard of, the guy with the strongest arm is probably a third string QB.

  12. How’bout they send receivers across the middle to see who can draw the most “hitting too hard” penalties.

  13. Do a Network Battle of the Stars theme. Best O linemen vs best D line in a tug of war. Break them into a group of 5 and do some 5 on 5 drills where winners advance. Oh yeah you Do have to play both O and D on these drills. Speed contests, Jumping ability … Theres a lot they can do. One more thing if a player tries to get out of it through an “injury” said player will be evaluated by a doctor not affiliated with the player, so no fakin it. Something has to be better than 4th and 5th rate player and calling them All Pro’s

  14. Three to five man teams (selected by the players/coaches) from each team (excluding those in the Super Bowl) the winning team gets a donation of X dollars from all the other teams to give to the charity of it’s choice.

  15. No the only thing they should do is eliminate the game and just give the players a bonus if they’re voted to the teams.

  16. Changes for the pro bowl.

    #1 put it back after the Super Bowl, this allows us to have a goodbye to football and lets Super Bowl players play in the game. Also gives players more time to rest and makes them less likely to decline.

    #2 Put a Saturday skills competition, (I remember something like this before with trick kicks) and invite players who aren’t in the pro bowl if they would qualify for the skill. Put like $100,000 up for the winner of each comp & let that player get a patch on there jersey for the upcoming season to denote their win.

  17. Since the Pro Bowl is such a joke, why not just eliminate the Pro Bowl altogether and just have a skills competition? I’d say the chances of anyone getting hurt is far greater in a meaningless game than in a skills competition.

  18. They should bring back the ‘NFLs Fastest Man’ competition. That would be something the fans (and other players for that matter) would be interested in seeing, and no concerns about injuries.

  19. All-Star games for any sport have become a joke. The challenge is figuring out a way to still award the best players but put forth an entertaining product that still means something to the fans. I’m not sure skill competitions are the answer. Even the Home Run Derby has become a joke.
    Really, the players seem disinterested in the game and top players mostly skip it all together. Only a few that do show compete at a level high enough for fans to care. Until that changes it really won’t matter what format they use. Fans will never get behind a game that the players don’t care about themselves.

  20. The skills competition was the only part of the Pro Bowl that I enjoyed growing up. I’m not sure why they ever got rid of it to begin with.

  21. If they do anything at all, they should have a skills competition instead of the doofus Pro Bowl game.

  22. You mean like Battle of the Network Stars?
    Which I’ve caught late night on cable somewhere.
    Nothing beats watching Parker Stevens and Tony Danza going 110% on the obstacle course.

  23. Do an acting competition where the player goes all googly eyed and pretends he has a concussion.

  24. 1. Go back to playing it AFTER the Super Bowl (which also happens to be a whole THREE weeks after the conference championship games, giving guys who lost those games the chance/desire to go to the Pro Bowl)

    2. Put it back as NFC vs AFC.

    3. Go back to basic red and blue uniforms.

    Do that and it should be fine, like it used to be.

  25. All the QBs stand around an official begging for a flag and the one he throws it to wins. They could call it the Brady Competition.

  26. How’bout a Commissioner competition: A bunch of reporters pelt him with questions, and if he accidentally tells the truth he’s fired.

  27. I was going to write a comment about how stupid this idea is because fans want to see a game not a dog and pony show bu then I realized I won’t watch the Pro Bowl because it is just as bad.

    Hopefully the people who care about the idea of a Pro Bowl ultimately get whatever format they prefer.

  28. A ball swatting competition? Players progressively step farther away from the endline until the player who swats it out from the farthest distance wins. I quit.

  29. Play it a couple weeks AFTER the superbowl. The SB players will be available and the butt hurt diva’s who lost in the playoffs will be over it and ready for a vacay.

  30. Only way I’d watch is if they could rifle footballs at Goodells face like in the center of a tire. Otherwise I will continue to not watch

  31. They had it up until the 2007 season. In 2006 Brian Mormoon, the bills punter, won the obstacle course, which was great.
    I remember Randall Cunningham stripping off the Hawaiian shirt and tossing the ball like 75 yards, and 40ish year old darell green leaving 20 year olds in the dust in the 40.
    It was watchable tv, which the pro bowl isn’t

  32. remember the old NFL Quarterback Club? i would love to see that and all the other skills competitions be brought back along with many new ones. gives players bragging rights for a year.

    instead of trophies have Skill comp Champion Title Belts where the players names can be changed off the belt and always have the current champ from the last pro bowl weekend defend his skills title against the new comers.

    It would be awesome to have the preLims all day thursday and friday setting up the fields for the real competition all day saturday followed by the NFL awards show and then all day sunday followed by a new version of the pro bowl.

    Or else maybe replace the sunday night pro bowl with the hall of fame bowl have old timers and hall of famers playing vs each other.

    the NFL def needs to bring back some things that made the game awesome for me growing up and become a life long addict. The kids now a days need to see what the newer era of players can do at the punt, pass and kick competitions!!!

  33. The hockey skills comp is on, which is probably why PFT chose to bring it up again, at it is at least somewhat entertaining. Can you imagine a few years ago CJ2K vs desean in a footrace? Or Brees, Brady, Manning and Rodgers in a QB club style competition? Tell me with a straight face you would rather watch the Pro Bowl where guys jog around but Irvin acts like hes still jacked on crack.

  34. The pro bowl used to have a skills challenge. I remember watching David Akers playing horse against Vinitari. The NFL should bring this back as the Saturday of pro bowl weekend was the most entertaining (they had a celebrity game as well). The pro bowl should also be pushed back until after the super bowl.

  35. For those of us who don’t watch and just don’t care about the Pro-bowl at all, why bother trying to improve it?

    Its like SNL. It just doesn’t know when to quit even though it is old, unwatchable, nothing can save it and should end now.

  36. I don’t know about skills competitions, but please make it AFC vs NFC again. I feel no competition between two arbitrary players picking random teams.

  37. Only the guys wanting to show off would enter any kind of skills competition.

    Because he was a highly recruited soccer player before college, OBJ is almost as good a kicker as WR, and was nailing 40-yard field goals in Pro Bowl practice last year, even with the narrower goal posts. He also did a one-hand catch drill during the pre-Super Bowl fan fest that gave him the Guinness record for most (33) in 60 seconds. Thus OBJ would probably have fun in a skills competition. But I don’t see any lineman on either side of the ball interested in doing anything – they’re in too much pain by the time the season is over and just want to rest and recover. A fastest-man contest? Pulled hamstrings. Weightlifting? Torn pecs/biceps/triceps.

    If you’re thinking about events like the old Superstars competition, or even the more humorous Battle of the Network Stars… that was done in the off-season, not one week before the championship (or in the case of BotNS, just before series began to shoot for the fall).

    It’s a nice idea, but there aren’t enough risk-averse events, or players willing to do them.

  38. Only way to save this thing is with a radical change in emphasis. I mean, these guys have already worked hard for months, most of them gotten pretty well beat up, so why make them keep grinding? I say give them something THEY enjoy watching.
    Like so – players selected to the Pro Bowl get front row seats in a Model Off between Vicotria’s Secret & Swedish Bikini Team.
    Air it on A&E as a cultural event.
    Might get a few neck strain injuries but that’d be
    be it.
    Noone would back out and TV ratings would be decent. I’d watch it.

  39. Because of the risk of injury, no one is going to play hard in the Pro Bowl. Salaries are too high, and its not worth the risk for an extra 50K when these top players are making millions.

    1 – get rid of the pro bowl
    2 – a skills competition sounds boring

    so I have a better idea

    Take a group of fans from the stands, give them pads, put them on the field. If any one of them can tackle a top RB like Marshawn Lynch, they get $100. Marshawn Lynch in full pads, coming your way, here is your chance to get in front of him and tackle him.

    Then take some more fans, say 5 of them, put them on one side and JJ Watt on the other. If they can keep Watt from crossing a line for 4 seconds, they each get $100. Again, both sides in full pads. Maybe JJ isn’t so tough after all.

    I’d enjoy watching all that. 🙂

  40. I love this idea – skills tests.

    We could have dancing into the end zone competitions since that matters so much.

    We could have ways to cheat as a test. New England and Cam Cheating could rule this for years.

    We could have snappy snap count competitions to draw defenders off sides and the Cheesehead QB from Green Bay could showcase his ONLY talent.

    How many hats can you wear as an owner? Jerruh Jones could win this for years assuming his face lifts don’t fall first.

    How about fancy endzone entrances? We could see all the showboating and unnecessary and unsportsmanlike taunting while entering the endzone – leaping off the feet into the endzone without any challenge by a defender within five yards.

    Who’s the biggest girl on the field – competitions for the women on teams who have hair that could get caught in the butt crack if left to its own device. Let’s see if these women can cover both their names and full jersey number and then hide their bums which will be exposed as they wear leather caps instead of pants.

  41. The winner of the pro bowl game can’t receive the franchise tag. You’ll see some real football then.

  42. How about there is just a title ALL PRO to that player added when peers vote on each player. Keep the fan out of it because 99% vote for their team.

    Now get rid of the game

  43. Take the best of the NHL and NBA. Three-point shooting contest, speed skating, and then a slam dunk contest on skates. Or forget about adding anything and scrap the awful Pro Bowl game.

  44. There’s no way to compel players to care about a game whose outcome doesn’t matter.

    Stop awarding huge financial windfalls for individual performances is the antithesis of a “team”.

    Stop trying to make being named a Pro-Bowler mean said player needs to play a football game for no reason.

    By all means, send these guys to Hawaii with a ton of ESPN cameras for an all-expense paid week and market them as friendly, family guys. But dump the game. And dump the impression that NFL players think being named to a Pro-Bowl is in any way validation of their career.

  45. Come on bills fans… moorman never won the obstacle course in 2007. He was DQ’ed for skipping an obstacle. I think Cato June won. Give it a rest – the punter cheated.

  46. Nope, they should REPLACE the Pro Bowl with a skills competition. I would watch that every year, unlike this joke of a game which I haven’t watched in almost 10 years. The only people watching have to be gamblers and they can still bet on the skills competitions.

  47. I think there still should be a flag football game, but in addition -I suggest: tug o’ war for the line man (AFC v NFC), QB challenge, bicycle race and track events for receivers, put up a basketball hoop and have a kicking challenge, mud wrestling for the cheerleaders, It’s in Hawaii so, you could have a rowing race – the sky’s the limit Rodge!

  48. The players are not going to be up for it after all the weeks of play. I’d rather watch their mothers play. In fact, could have a cash prize, soup commercial, and end it all with some mud wrestling. Now THAT would get some interest.

  49. I’d watch a “one-handed catch” competition between Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry any day!

  50. I’ve thought the whole thing should be a skills competition. Hey we’ve seen these guys play for 23 weeks, been there done that. How about qbs going against qbs in passing skills for money with like matching money going to charity. Ditto on running, catching, etc.
    You could come up with all kinds of competitions and make it fun. Even a tug of war for the linemen versus defense.
    Beer drinking, scantily clad women and you got yourself one heck of an event. what there doing now is non sense. These guys do not want to get hurt or tackle anyone and miss next year.

  51. Not sure how NFL players would have a greater risk of injury during a skills competition than the NHL & NBA guys.

  52. This was MY idea, when everyone started complaining about the Pro Bowl. It’s a day to celebrate the players, but should include more interactivity with the fans. Remember those old sports competitions that used to air on ABC wherein you had pro athletes compete with celebrities as well as non-pro athletes/civilians for Cash Prizes — that is how the Pro Bowl should be done. The Pro Bowl participants don’t need the money (NFL salary+appearance fees+endorsement deals etc.). Instead, have them compete against one another in skill drills (e.g., Drew Brees vs. Aaron Rodgers throwing through the donut hole lol) and award the fans as well as various charities. Just Do It, Roger (Goodell)!

  53. I think it would be fun to watch the kickers play in a soccer game, maybe watch the QBs play golf, and DBs vs. WRs in a basketball game.

  54. They should make it so the winning team gets “Get out of Penalty Free” cards. The refs want to toss the flags so often, these could be really valuable next season.

  55. We have only ourselves to blame. Too many people still watch the game and that brings in money for the NFL. The NFL won’t pass up the money, so the game won’t go away.

    Boycott the damn thing. Turn the TV on, put it on a channel with no station and watch the static for three house. That has to be more exciting than the “game”.

  56. The players certainly don’t need to play the game.

    But whatever replaces the game, it has to make as much money for the NFL as the game did or they won’t drop it.

    So skill events need to be special. Not a 40-yrd dash but a 40-yrd dash through American Ninja obstacle course – or military obstacle course.

    Maybe Military vs NFL track and field type events.

  57. Dumb idea. Football skills don’t make for exciting spectator viewing. What are they going to do? Have the QB’s see how many footballs they can throw through a tire from 40 yards away? Bo-ring!

  58. @Socalavsfan: You’re right.

    Until 2007, the Pro Bowl Skills Challenge was held every year in Honolulu, Hawaii, at the hotel the players used. Among the events were a 40-yard dash, throwing for accuracy, kicking for distance, catching, and bench press. There was no live telecast, or, apparently, much publicity; the NFL Pro Bowl official event page did not list this event at all. In 2007, the tape delay broadcast moved from ESPN to NFL Network. The only reason explicitly cited for the discontinuation was that the field where the event was held no longer exists, as the hotel has taken the field back for other purposes.

  59. Ask Robert Edwards how blowing out his knee at an NFL rookie flag football game in Hawaii during Pro Bowl week.

    Edwards barely escaped the injury without having his leg amputated below the knee, and he was told he might not walk again.

  60. This shows a lack of understanding as to what it means to be a pro athlete.

    For an athlete to COMPETE, then it requires the absolute highest level of competition, not this showboating crap.

    Agassi was once asked to take on Swigardi Zimbashimu from Suhaaha in a Davis Cup match.

    He did.

    He dipped his plane’s wings while passing over the match on the way out of town.

    There’s a simple solution to restoring the pro bowl as the representation of the absolute brutality of football at its highest level.

    Just have all the players dip their wings.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.