Everything Wrong with the Pro Bowl

The NFL Pro Bowl has fallen off an entertainment cliff this past decade. What possibly could bring it back to the glory days?



Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers rolls out to throw in the Pro Bowl

Connor Smith, Staff Writer

The Pro Bowl has slowly declined in entertainment value over the years. Long gone are the days of Larry Allen benching 50 reps of 225, Brett Favre throwing a football the length of the field, and Sean Taylor almost ending a punter’s career.

The game has changed for the better. More players are being more cautious with their bodies after seeing what happens when you don’t.  Professional athletes want to get that nice big second contract and don’t want to jeopardize their careers at a game that doesn’t even matter.

Of course, some Pro Bowl skills challenges of the new age brought some form of entertainment to the seemingly meaningless event.   Dodgeball, Kick Tac Toe, and the Accuracy Gauntlet are all enjoyable.

The Pro Bowl of years past had some of the best ideas for event yet — a competitive NFL Combine.  Competitions like the longest throw, most bench reps of two plates, and the receiver on corner matchups produced some of the most memorable Pro Bowl moments.

But the NFL has a history of not taking fan input into account, and for an event based on pure entertainment, the Pro Bowl needs more input from the fans.

The first change needs to be the lineup of challenges. While some Pro Bowl Challenges might be fun and exciting, they get repetitive. A mix of old school competition and new school creative games is a great way to make the Pro Bowl challenges fun to watch again.

There need to be seven challenges, all between the players at the Pro Bowl. My ideal lineup of events would be bench press competition, QB accuracy gauntlet, wide receiver vs defensive back one on ones, longest throw competition, kick tac toe, football drill obstacle course, and the finale — dodgeball. From a fan’s perspective, these events would be well received. Most clips on various social media platforms involving these events garnered a lot of views and are regarded as the most popular and memorable events in Pro Bowl history.

Now, not only do the Pro Bowl challenges need revision, but the game itself has regressed in entertainment over the years. There’s more to risk in the game than there is to gain, and when the players started to understand that, the rules immediately changed.

Complaining about the lack of physicality in the Pro Bowl is monotonous and over exaggerated. The players have a valid point in wanting less tackling. Embracing their opinion would be a great idea. The current tackling rules are confusing and often misinterpreted by the referees, making for some awkward 70-yard runs where both sides could say they were tackled or they weren’t.

The fix is simple. Just make it flag football.

Everyone who played flag football growing up is a fan of football now. There is little to no hard contact, and the game still resembles true football. It would, of course, be seven on seven because those are the rules of flag football for spacing reasons. 

I also think there shouldn’t be kickoffs, as studies have shown that kickoffs in football are the most dangerous events in sports. Just start with the ball on a specific yard line and play twenty yard first downs.

There are many celebrity and alumni events that use flag football, and using their format would make the Pro Bowl the most entertaining it could be.

The Pro Bowl has so much potential to be a very laid back, enjoyable event, if the NFL cares to change. The NBA, on the other hand, does a great job of this and made their All-Star Game event much better over the last few years.

I just wish the NFL would take a page out of the fans’ books.