The Pro Bowl is by far the most meaningless “all-star” game of any of the major sports. An obvious reason would be with its timing. Up until last year the game was held one week after the pinnacle of the entire sports year. Talk about the textbook example of a letdown. And with the new week before the Super Bowl format, we have such adrenaline coming out of championship week that we’re ready to ride the high straight to the Lombardi Trophy. Why should we care about some flag football game shoehorned in between?
And how can you consider the Pro Bowl an all-star game when, in the new format, there is a 100 percent chance that significant number of “stars” won’t be Hawaii bound? Yes, I’m talking about the numerous representatives from the New England Patriots or New York Giants — the league’s two best teams — who won’t be playing. And then there’s the trickledown effect, meaning several of the 49ers and Ravens who suddenly have injuries prohibiting them from playing. That’s a good chunk of your final four.
The NFL Pro Bowl always sounds amazing on paper. The league’s biggest stars, all playing together on common teams in an attempt to showcase their talent and prove which conference is the best in the NFL. In practice, though, few fans truly care about the Pro Bowl.
While many fans will give it cursory attention, turn it on and watch it for a few minutes before they realize that what they’re watching looks like football but actually isn’t, at least not in the way we’re all used to seeing it in the regular season.
So this begs the question: Why should we care about the NFL Pro Bowl? We can offer a few reasons.
Truth is, the Pro Bowl really is amazing. It really is. And this year’s, like any other, is worth watching for any and every fan of the game.
There won’t be any New England Patriots or New York Giants on the field. However, it’s our last collective chance to see some of the league’s biggest playmakers take the field until the preseason.
But trust me, once the final ticks run off the clock in the Super Bowl, we’re all going to be wringing our hands in anticipation of an NFL preseason that seems a lifetime away.
We might as well get in as much football as possible while we have the opportunity, even if it is the watered-down fan-fest version on display in the Pro Bowl. Remember, it wasn’t long ago that the 2011 NFL season was under threat of not happening in its entirety, thanks to the lockout.
Think of it this way: Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be throwing passes to Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. That is, unless New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis doesn’t pick him off.
Or how about this: Will Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton hand the ball off to explosive running back Marshawn Lynch, or will he choose to run for the touchdown himself?
It’s compelling stuff, and certainly not the kind of thing you can see every day. Just once a year does life imitate fantasy football.
And although there’s less on the line than in a typical game, and the hits won’t be as hard, there are still plays to be made and they’ll come from the very best in the league.
Who doesn’t want to see Newton again this season? To see if the Minnesota Vikings’ Jared Allen can sack Ben Roethlisberger and then be unnecessarily flagged for it? And who doesn’t love seeing a bunch or over weight grown men in Hawaiian shirts?
Sure it’s a glorified popularity contest, a mere exhibition, and it can even be annoying to watch at times.
But if you love the NFL, you need to watch the Pro Bowl. It’s the reunion episode of the best reality television show ever made, and it’s must-see TV this Sunday.