A Football Game Not Worth Watching? The NFL’s Big Pro-Bowl Question

Chris Frangolini  Journal Staff

Every year the National Football League captivates millions of viewers that actively tune in every Sunday and Monday (and Thursday and Saturday towards the end of the season.) New stars arise and become household names, while also capturing the hearts of sports fans everywhere. Whether it’s J.J. Watt, who somehow finds his way to the quarterback, even if he is double-teamed and blocked, or rising rookie stars like Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III who lead their respective teams to the playoffs, or Russell Wilson who won a playoff game.

There are also heart-warming stories of triumph and comeback that even Hollywood could not script, like Adrian Peterson and Peyton Manning. Peyton Manning came back from neck surgery and missed the entire 2011 campaign with his former team, the Indianapolis Colts. Manning put up MVP-like statistics with the Denver Broncos completing 68.6 per cent of his passes (career high,) throwing for 4,659 passing yards (second best of career,) and tossing 37 touchdowns. By the way he only threw 11 interceptions (second lowest of career.)

Adrian Peterson, the favorite to win the Most Valuable Player of the 2012 season, on the other hand, came back from an ACL and MCL (similar to Tom Brady in 2008) tear from week 16 of last season. Peterson went through surgery, rehab, and started the first game of the season. He ended up running for 2,097 yards (eight yards short of Eric Dickerson’s record) and 12 TDs, leading the Vikings to the playoffs.

Now with all these superstars why isn’t the NFL Pro Bowl worth watching? Every year the NFL loses viewers of the “All Star” game. The Pro Bowl is continually criticized and is viewed as, a show of entertainment than a football game. This due to the game being optional and the fear of being injured in a meaningless game. It is equivalent to a flag football game; the only catch is that it is the best of the best in professional football playing in that contest. The NFL seriously needs to put into consideration how to improve the Pro Bowl, even if it means copying off the success of other professional sports (for example, the NBA All-Star game.)

The Pro Bowl kicked off at 7:00 p.m. in Honolulu, Hawaii, this past Sunday (Jan. 27,) one week before Super Bowl 47. This year there were 97 points scored (fourth all-time) as the NFC routed the AFC 62-35 with Minnesota Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph catching five balls for 122 yards and a touchdown, taking home Most Valuable Player.

NFL commissioner, Rodger Goodell told Sports Illustrated, “We’re either going to have to improve the quality of what we’re doing in the Pro Bowl or consider other changes or even consider eliminating the game if that’s the kind of quality we’re going to provide.”