The NFL played its annual Hawaii vacation All-Star game this past Sunday, not that you would have noticed. Seriously, half the big name players decline to attend, and the game itself generates absolutely zero interest. For that matter, All Star games in general seem to be on the decline - witness how baseball decided to spice things up by attaching home field advantage in the World Series to the winner, which will go down as one of the dumbest ideas of all time. The NBA game amounts to nothing more than a defenseless dunkfest, while the NHL version, while freewheeling, still places little to no emphasis on things that are important, like contact. Baseball, Basketball and Hockey have tries to make events of the games by celebrating All Star Weekends, or similarly themed Fan Fests, which were cool at first (like the Slam Dunk contest or Home Run Derby), but have seen interest on the wane.
The beef here, however, is with the NFL. By its very nature, football is a brutal contact sport. PLaying an actual game in which players clearly want to do nothing more than avoid getting hurt is never a good idea. Absolutely nothing is at stake for the participants, either. Seeing that the contract the league was under to hold the game in Hawaii each year is up, now is as good a time as any to call it a day and shut this game down. Would anyone actually care, other than the Honolulu tourism board? Quick: name the last 5 winners of the Pro Bowl? See, nobody cares!
The solution, then? We like the idea of integrating the All Star players with the events of Super Bowl week. Some have mentioned playing the game during the off week, but again, the game isn't the thing. Also, what about the players who are playing in the Super Bowl? No way in hell their respective coaches allow them to do this. How about naming the actual Pro Bowlers after the conclusion of the regular season? Once the All Conference players have been named, setup an event in the host city which honors these guys, and throw in the annual awards (MVP, Rookie of the Year, etc.) while you're at it, and make it the NFL Annual Awards Night or some such thing. A black tie event, with high priced tickets, right smack dab in the middle of the biggest self-congratulatory party week an organization can throw itself sonds like a winner to us.
So, to review: no more Pro Bowl, huge public high priced slobberfest instead, massive coverage, everybody wins. Mr. Goodell, you can contact us at the e-mail address provided for further details. We'll take a cut rate, because we care.
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