It’s time to say “bye” to the Pro Bowl

By Brandon Cline, Staff Writer

As the first of two weeks of preparation for Super Bowl XLIX winds down, the attention turns to University of Phoenix Stadium, the site of this year’s Super Bowl, where a game of no importance, the Pro Bowl, still catches the eyes of millions.

The Pro Bowl has been a steady fixture in the NFL and professional football since 1951, and the time has come for the event to end somewhat on top, before terrible injury or extreme lack of effort do it in, as it inevitably will.

The game has always been meant for the fans, but the well-being of the players should trump all else. Fans and players alike criticized the effort of the players in the 2012 Pro Bowl, as the AFC beat the NFC, 59-41.

Simon Samano, formerly of, said about the game: “Players love the trip to Hawaii but don’t care for the game itself. They have no desire to risk injury in a ‘meaningless’ game, which is why they don’t play hard, which is how you end up with 59–41 as the final score. It’s that lack of effort that caused fans to boo during portions of this year’s game.”

For the players though, it’s a catch-22. If they play hard and give the fans a good game, it also means they are risking their bodies over a meaningless game, when some players have already played up to 23 games since the preseason began in August.

However, if the players restrain themselves and let their bodies come first, the level of effort drops considerably and is glaringly noticeable by the fans who paid money to be in attendance and the fans wanting to watch their favorite players on TV one last time that season.

With the complex nature of it all, the game itself needs to be replaced with an event that is both entertaining to the fans and safe for the players. An extensive skills competition would be an answer to that problem.

The NFL discontinued the Pro Bowl skills competition in 2007. The event was never close to reaching its full potential. With a new and revised skills competition, which would focus heavily on fan interaction and creative challenges amongst players, the competition would provide the energy and enthusiasm that the Pro Bowl has always been missing because of a lack of effort.

Who wouldn’t want to see Aaron Rodgers throwing to Calvin Johnson while being covered by Richard Sherman, or seeing J.J. Watt face off against Rob Gronkowski in a football-styled obstacle course? Instead though, the NFL thinks fans enjoy seeing players going through the motions at half-speed for a game that means nothing to either side.

Damon Albrecht, a freshman at EWU, said, “I think the Pro Bowl ends up being a lackluster competition between the best players in the NFL, and if it were a skills competition, the players would go 100 percent with minimal risk of injury, making for it a more competitive and intense atmosphere.”

The NFL has many messes they need to clean up, both on and off the field. Axing the Pro Bowl and implementing a skills competition full of energy and freshness would be a step in the right direction.