Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Game Not Worth Watching

Hey NFL, I have an idea about how you can improve the Pro Bowl: END IT.

I just read that the NFL is dropping its current format of having the best players from each conference square off in to a draft format.  The way players will be selected to the Pro Bowl will remain the same, but each team will instead field a team by the junior high school method of taking turns and picking which side Peyton Manning and Tom Brady play for.

Yeah, that's great and all, but it's another gimmicky move by the NFL to draw up interest for a game that shouldn't even be played.  There's nothing at stake and players shouldn't risk an unnecessary injury that could end their careers prematurely.  Besides, you can't even play real football: offenses can't audible and defenses can't blitz.  So what are you watching?  It's basically Pop Warner on steroids.  Perhaps literally.

The NFL can't get people to watch its All Star game.  The idea isn't totally bad, except as the paragraph before explains it, there's nothing at stake.  It's like the NFL Preseason with the best of the best playing instead of watching the worst of the best try and make a squad.  The last thing the league tried was moving the game to the week prior to the Super Bowl in order to serve as an appetizer.  It didn't help much.

All Star games aren't what they once were.  Football and hockey games are exhibition matches that don't generate interest but do scare general managers and fans who can't stand the thought of losing a franchise player on a meaningless game.  When played properly, they're both extremely physical.  Thus, the risk of injury is greater.  It's not like you can tell the players to not play at full speed.  That's what happens a lot of times in the preseason, and there's always someone else trying to make a team that is going full speed and the next thing you know: injury.

Baseball and basketball are a little better, but both have seen better days as well.  The NBA All Star Game looks more like a pickup game with no real organization.  It's just lots of athleticism on display.  That's okay, but considering the quality of NBA talent has fallen off since the 1990s, it's not like you're watching Bird and Jordan take on Magic and (Karl) Malone.  Instead, you're stuck with Kobe and LeBron.

However, in baseball, the players still have something to play for.  Not the stupid rule that gives home field advantage in the World Series to the winning league's representative.  No, I mean the motivation for a batter to not be humiliated by striking out or a pitcher to not give up six runs or more in an inning.

The NFL should just nix the game altogether.  I get that it's Roger Goodell's job to squeeze every last dime out of fans, but there is an old but true cliche that less is more.  Keep the NFL Draft where it's at.  Keep the regular season at sixteen games.  Knock a game off the NFL Preseason schedule.  If nothing else, lose the Pro Bowl.

Detroit Lions' writer Tim Twentyman has more on the new rule changes here.

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