Every year when the Major League Baseball All-Star Game comes around, fans of other sports can’t help but envy it a bit. There’s something about the Home Run Derby and the Game itself that makes it the best All-Star game in any major sport. Let’s say that maybe the NBA’s can rival it including the Slam Dunk contest. But the NFL’s Pro Bowl is a bad product and football fans know it.
So as we get ready for the Derby and the All-Star Game, let’s try to do the impossible. Let’s try and find three ideas to fix the NFL Pro Bowl.
While discussing potential ideas with my A to Z Sports colleague Adam Holt, the original list we came up with looked something like this:
- Make it two hours of the dodge ball game they play instead.
- Cancel the game altogether.
- Repeat this process yearly.
While these solutions sound good to us, we know the NFL might not be willing to adopt them. So instead, let’s try again.
1. The Skills Challenge is great… put it on Primetime
MLB’s Home Run Derby is fun. If you’re into baseball, you’re likely into watching the game’s biggest stars try to hit as many dingers as possible. In the NFL, it’s tough to find a similar competition. Yet the league has come up with the Skills Challenge competition which includes Precision Passing, Gridiron Gauntlet, Thread the Needle, and Epic Pro Bowl Dodgeball.
And as much as we criticize the Pro Bowl, I think these challenges have been fun to most fans. The players enjoy them, and they actually try. However, in January 2020, the Skills Challenge began on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. Surely, most fans just enjoyed the clips on social media instead of sitting down in front of the TV to watch it like you would with the Home Run Derby.
Air the Skills Challenge at night. Heck, do it on Saturday night one day before the Pro Bowl. I think NFL fans would love that.
2. Fan Controlled Football Style: Let fans call plays
Okay, this is an ambitious one, but we’re trying to solve a product that hasn’t been good in a long, long time so ambition is just what we need. Fan Controlled Football is a very young league that’s been trying to change things up. Its main feature is that – as the name implies – it lets fans have some control in the game.
According to their website, this is how it works:
“On Twitch and in the FCF app, you’ll see Run or Pass when your team is on offense. Pick one, and you’ll see four diagramed play options. Lock in your favorite, get notified which play won the vote and watch the play unfold on the field in real-time. It’s not magic, but it’s pretty damn close.”
The NFL doesn’t have to do this for every single play, but maybe in some key moments. Get a sponsor for the Key Moment and let the sportscasters talk about the voting results. I mean, I’d like to call a play for my favorite NFL players, wouldn’t you?
3. Let former coaching legends coach
Usually, a lot of fans want former players to suit up and go at it. While I’d love that as much as the next football fan, I realize it’s a tough ask for both the league and the players themselves. However, why not build a coaching staff from former coaching legends?
Get Tony Dungy, Bill Cowher, Jimmy Johnson, Bill Parcels, and guys like that involved. That should definitely provide more entertainment value than a coaching staff recently eliminated from the Playoffs.
Plus, it would inspire some nostalgic feelings for football fans and maybe some NFL players become more interested in the game as they play for guys they grew up watching coach. Imagine if a rivalry between coaches is born out of this.
Featured image via Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports