Friday, January 24, 2014

Can the Pro Bowl Be Saved?

As of now, players awkwardly hitting on Hawaiin girls is the highlight of Pro Bowl weekend. Let's change that.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Most people hate the Pro Bowl and say it can't be saved, but I've gotta say, I'm still holding out hope for the NFL's All Star game.

Granted, football is a completely different animal than baseball and basketball, and even hockey. You simply can't play an exhibition game with the same intensity, and thus, the same excitement as a game that counts. It just isn't going to happen.

I think the average football fan understands and accepts this fact, so let's use that to our advantage and totally change the meaning of the Pro Bowl and make it a fun weekend for everybody involved.

First of all, the game is now 7-on-7 with flags. You know why? The kids love it! 7-on-7 drills in the off-season for high school teams used to be a way to keep the passing game sharp. Now, they have tournaments and nationally televised recruiting spectacles centered around 7-on-7s.

And let's not even get into how seriously frat bros on every college campus in America take their intramural flag football league. Getting to see the best football players in the world in a 7-on-7 drill would be like watching LeBron, Kobe, Durant, D-Wade, Curry, Carmelo and Dirk all play a game of knockout or 21.

AKA, it would be freaking awesome!

Okay, glad we agreed that this would be the most important and greatest change to the game. Suddenly, the threat of getting hit is gone (nobody hit in the game anyway, and tackling was downright awkward once they made contact because nobody wanted to hurt anybody else), and we just have high-flying athleticism. Now we have to find out what to do with offensive linemen, who obviously don't have a very large role in a 7-on-7. I mean, at least with defensive linemen, we could just have them pretend to chase the quarterback every play.

My vote for the O-Linemen would be to fill out the GM/coaching staffs and officiating crews with all your favorite big uglies. Let's say we elect eight guards, eight tackles and four centers to the Pro Bowl. Those 20 guys will get their recognition as All Stars, but the top-4 vote getters would receive special jobs. The Top-2 vote getters would get their choice: Either coach a team or be the GM and draft a team in our fantasy draft (yes, I'm keeping that part. It's a fun idea). Whichever positions the first two don't choose go to the next two. We then pair a coach with a GM.

Each GM/coach combination would then fill out his staff with two offensive coaches and two defensive coaches from the leftover linemen. The eight remaining linemen after that would then referee the game, complete with one lineman (God, please be Richie Incognito) up in the booth.

The coaches will all still be wearing Hawaiian shirts, but I will add the clause that they are allowed to sip tropical drinks as the game goes on. Oh hell, the refs can too, and so can the defensive linemen pretending to rush the quarterback. Those fat guys are gonna be hot, so they're gonna need a few Mai Tais.

But the actual game is just a part of my grand weekend, and this whole thing isn't just about real football.

No, through my partnership with EA Sports, this weekend is very much going to be about video game football as well. You see, I've gotten the guys at EA to agree to raise the overall rating of every player on the winning team by one point next season. You just watch how hard these guys play when their Madden rating is on the line.

But like I said, this isn't just about the game. The Thursday, Friday and Saturday before the game will feature a series of competitions, all with Madden points on the line. Watch as the NFL's fastest players all compete in a series of races against each other to see who will score the coveted "100 speed" rating.

How about the bench press? Well, whoever gets the most reps of 225 gets a "100 strength" rating. Quarterbacks throwing as far as they can? "100 throw power" rating to the winner. An obstacle course along the side of a volcano that involves balancing an egg on a spoon and collecting exactly three pounds of the volcanic rock, and burying it under Aloha Stadium? I'd be willing to give the winning team all "100 awareness" ratings. Awareness ratings in video games don't mean anything anyways.

The point is, I'm putting together a bunch of events that the players will somewhat care about, and that could affect your favorite player's Madden rating. Yeah, you know you'd tune in to see that.

All that, coupled with my now fun, slightly intoxicated flag football game, would make Pro Bowl weekend a must watch and a must travel too. Heck, I'm getting excited just thinking about it.

But I guess we can just settle for Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders picking the teams for now...

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