After this past weekend's (mostly) delicious serving of playoff football, the immediate impulse is to want more - much, much more - especially after the wild NFC Championship game between Seattle and Green Bay.
It sets in quite quickly though that there is only one game left on the docket - the biggest of them all, granted, but one game nonetheless. The hype train for Super Bowl XLIX has already begun to churn, but at a certain point two weeks of media speculation, meaningless quotes and repeated narratives get old and tiresome.
"Just play the damn game already!" we'll all yell, exasperated as the stories surrounding the big game get wilder and wilder as the two weeks drag on.
But wait! There is football to be had before the Patriots and Seahawks face off in Arizona! How could we forget...the Pro Bowl?
It's quite easy to forget the Pro Bowl, actually - for a long list of reasons, a list so long that it would have probably been rejected as a story pitch simply because of the fact that it would be the longest list-style article in the history of the Internet.
Everyone loves a collection of star athletes. Even when the games mean nothing, it's still nice to see the best of the best go at it; but in a contact sport like football, what's the point of having a game when several main aspects of the game - namely tackling and playing defence - are removed from the equation.
The NFL has tinkered and toyed with the event, but seemingly nothing has been able to revive interest in the event. Perhaps it's time for something truly new: here are a couple of ideas for you, Roger.
10 10. Having No Pro Bowl
9 9. Hold Media Day on "Pro Bowl Sunday"
8 8. NFL Pro-Am
This, surprisingly, is something that is not done often enough. EA Sports already runs their own version of an NFL Pro-Am to help market their video games - so why can't the NFL do the same? Madden has been able to reel in some fairly big names over the years, so it shouldn't be too difficult for the NFL to get something just as good (if not better) going.
7 7. Get Rid of the Second Week Off
The NFL gives the Super Bowl participants two weeks before the big game to prepare, adjust to new surroundings, and perhaps most importantly, heal up their players. This year, this could pay dividends for the Seahawks, who will have ample time to treat injuries to starting right tackle Justin Britt and elite cornerback Richard Sherman, who hurt his arm making a tackle against the Packers on Sunday.
6 6. Move HOF Weekend to Pro Bowl Weekend
5 5. Have Everyone Play A Different Position
Here's something a bit out of left-field that would probably be shut down immediately by the "No Fun League." Wouldn't it be crazy to have All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas take the snap at quarterback, pitch it to "running back" Julio Jones, who then laterals it to "receiver" DeMarco Murray, who throws a deep ball to another "receiver," Joe Haden, only to have it picked off by hard-hitting safety Cam Newton?
4 4. Keep the Game, Eliminate the Rules
In the same vein as the last idea, but with a bit of a twist. This game is usually boring not only because of the disinterest from the players, but also because without effort, tackling and speed, football in-and-of-itself becomes fundamentally boring. If the players invited to the Pro Bowl aren't going to go all out, why not switch things up a bit? Allow forward laterals. Let offensive linemen run downfield as eligible receivers. When the defense picks off a pass, they themselves are allowed to act as an offense and throw the ball downfield.
3 3. Pro Bowl Flag Football "Tournament"
2 2. "3rd Place Game"
What's the one thing people wish they had in the lead up to Super Bowl Sunday? More football - more real football, to be precise.
1 1. Skills Competition
At the end of the day, this might be the only logical and feasible replacement for the NFL Pro Bowl. Players won't necessarily feel the need to brag about a Pro Bowl victory - but they will definitely get in the ear of their opponents in a 40-yard dash race, or an accuracy competition, or any other skills-based events the league can put their players through on Pro Bowl Sunday. This can also be made somewhat interactive, by allowing fans to enter into contests to help run the events or even participate in certain aspects of the skills competition. The competition would also involve some unusual challenges...
Anyone who disagrees that a race between an offensive lineman and a nose-tackle is much more interesting than watching the two barely hit each other in a Pro Bowl game clearly has no sense of humor.
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