All-Star weekends in the NBA and MLB are a fun time for both fans and players. The fans get a chance to watch fun competitions amongst some of the game’s best, mainly the home run derby, the 3-point shooting contest, and the dunk contest. The next day, the MLB offers us a competitive game of stars, where the winning league gets home field advantage for that seasons world series (as of this season that is no longer the case). The NBA meanwhile trots out all its big names for an exhibition where the word defense does not exist. The all-stars in both leagues get a chance to catch up with other all-stars and fly their families in for the weekend, while the rest of the players get a few days off to rest up for the 2nd halves of their seasons. Meanwhile both leagues rake in money. Everybody involved wins.
And then there’s the NFL Pro Bowl, the joke of all all-star festivities. Fans vote for their favorite players, leaving many deserving, but less known players out, and once the names are announced, the coaches select alternates for the game because half of the players voted to the game are either injured, refuse to play, or they’re playing in the Super Bowl and are not going to participate. So once a quarter of the league is named pro bowlers, the players are either divided up by conferences, or drafted by celebrities, dressed in terrible uniforms, go through a week of practice (where they do nothing but goof off), and then play a game where no one tries because it’s football, and whenever anyone tries in football, they risk getting injured. Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert seriously injured his ankle in last year’s game, and it cost him many games this season. Saints quarterback Drew Brees tore a muscle in his shoulder at the 2007 game, although he luckily did not miss any games the following season.
No player in their right mind wants to risk getting injured for a terrible all-star game that nobody watches (and their employers especially do not want them getting hurt). So, they either tell the league they aren’t going to play by making up an injury, or they go, and don’t try at all. No fan wants to watch an offensive lineman take one step and allow a defensive end to casually jog around him so he can hug the quarterback, who by now has decided to just throw a deep ball to a big name wide receiver to see if he can outrun a corner who isn’t going to attempt to stay with him.
The fans don’t watch it and the players and organizations don’t want it played. So, what should the league do instead? Simply have fans vote for who should deserves to be considered a Pro Bowler, and then have the coaches select a handful of players who are deserving but not voted by fans. Honor the players, maybe make it a weekend of skills competitions and speeches, but don’t play the actual game. Football is a dangerous game, and these players shouldn’t be playing if it isn’t for their teams, it isn’t worth risking their livelihoods.
Photo Credit: (bleacherreport.com)