On Sunday the NFL held their annual Pro Bowl, which was originally conceived to be the NFL's All-Star game; allowing the league's best talent to showcase their skills to a Hawaiian crowd who rarely get to see professional football live. As much as the league tries to legitimize the game, it still shows itself to be a pointless pursuit between unmotivated players and coaches. Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson combined for eight carries, and 25 yards in yesterday's game -- and that sums up the contest.
As cute as it was to see defensive end J.J. Watt line up as a wide receiver, or the heart-warming final snap between Jeff Saturday and Peyton Manning -- all it did was further the Pro Bowl's spiral into utter irrelevance. It's one thing to see a position substitution as a goofy wrinkle, but when you break the basic rules of the game to have opponents snap the ball to each other, then you've crossed the line; and remember -- this was a game Washington Redskins' linebacker London Fletcher called 'competitive'. The same problems plaguing the Pro Bowl remained. Nobody played defense, and it turned into a glorified punt, pass, and kick competition.
Herein lies the problem with an All Star game in a contact sport. No knock on the MLB or NBA, because there's obviously some contact -- but it's spurious to claim there's as much physicality as in the NFL or NHL. These four sports share a common thread, baseball and basketball's All Star games are a somewhat close approximation to the sport seen throughout the season, which football and hockey are a shadow of their selves. Granted, nobody plays defense in any of them, but hitting is such a vital part of the NFL and NHL's ethos that when it's removed we see ludicrous games with four-times the scoring you'd see in a regular season contest.
It's natural to get worked up when a favorite player isn't recognized for the Pro Bowl, but the result would have been Luke Kuechly or Charles Johnson playing in a game where nobody plays defense. Unless your name is Cam Newton, nobody seems to care about tackling an offensive player, and we're left with a watered-down, pointless product that seems to entertain nobody.
If it went away would you miss the Pro Bowl? Do you have any suggestions on how the NFL could improve the event, or replace it entirely?