From time to time, the NFL huffs and puffs about the quality of the Pro Bowl. But the Pro Bowl’s house isn’t going to be blown down any time soon. (Even though it should be.)
This year, the NFL has offered standing-room only tickets at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, site of this year’s All-Star (Some-Star) game. Coupled with the why-am-I-watching?-because-it’s-on-TV audience, the most meaningless of all NFL games will continue to have relevance from a dollars-and-cents standpoint.
For the players, the risk is obvious — and the worst-case scenario played out last year for Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert, who emerged with an ankle injury that lasted through the offseason and lingered into the regular season. While the league is still able to gather up enough players who inexplicably are willing to assume the risk of a similar outcome, the decision of so many to avoid the game makes it something other than a collection of the best players in all of football.
But even without the best players putting forth the best effort, the game will indeed survive because it makes money for the league and its partners. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Still, the league shouldn’t complain about the quality of a game that is destined to have less intensity and competitiveness than a regular-season or postseason contest. If anything, the league should view as a sign of its strength the fact that people will actually pay to attend or devote their free time to watch a football game that may look like real football, but isn’t.
The players have made it through months of practices and games healthy enough to suit up one more time. They shouldn’t be asked to do it again. Name the team, have a dinner, give them a plaque, and just be done with it.