February 08, 2008
I don't know if it's even possible to turn this giant waste of time into something worthwhile, but here are four things the league could try to breathe some life into the mind-numbing Pro Bowl, which does not exactly have a long history of inspiring plays.
I'm going to try to watch Sunday, but it's a foregone conclusion that I'll end up falling asleep. That is, unless the league office suddenly decides to adopt one of these four ideas that changes what's at stake for the game, or the way that teams are divided up.
1. Game Winners Can't Be Suspended in the Offseason for Any Reason. Players on the winning Pro Bowl team would be given exempt status from all NFL rules and policies until the next season starts. Put this on the line, and I guarantee you things get competitive quickly. I know I'd play my heart out to be above the law for a few months.
As long as they weren't actually incarcerated, players from the winning Pro Bowl side could do anything they wanted, and Roger Goodell couldn't touch them. That's a full offseason of unapologetic steroid use, some buck-wild Pacman Jones behavior in strip clubs, recreational drugs, badmouthing the league, threatening officials ... whatever they wanted to do.
As long as they weren't in jail, Roger Goodell couldn't threaten their eligibility. That would be a worthwhile prize, and would make for a hell of an interesting offseason.
2. WWF-style Good Guys vs. Bad Guys. Throughout the course of the regular season and the playoffs, we keep track of everyone who gets arrested, suspended, fined, or is insubordinate to his team or organization, and we put them on the Bad Guys Team. This year's team would include Pacman Jones (suspension lifted only for this game), Chris Henry, Willie Andrews, Travis Henry, and all-time permanent team captain, Rodney Harrison.
And we put that team up against a team of the NFL's sweethearts. We get together all the guys who are candidates for the NFL's Man of the Year award, who regularly give to charity, who do a lot in the community, or are just generally nice people. Warrick Dunn would be a mainstay for the Good Guys, Michael Strahan, Drew Brees, Jason Taylor, Kurt Warner, etc.
The game might start off friendly, but by halftime, when the good guys are down 31-0 and have had 11 players injured or stabbed, the intensity would almost certainly pick up. And if not, when the Bad Guys interrupted the Good Guys postgame prayer circle with random, scattered gunfire, the rivalry would certainly be on for next year.
(Two more suggestions follow, just click that handsome blue link below)
3. North America vs. The World. The NHL tried this in an effort to give the game some more intensity, but it didn't work, and probably only inspired greater xenophobia in the fanbase. And I doubt it would work out that well with the NFL, either, as the game would end up being the entire NFL against Hines Ward, representing South Korea.
Alternately, they could take a page out of the Survivor book and go racial with the game. White vs. Non-white. Shockingly, though, there was some kind of a public outcry when CBS tried that approach with the popular reality show, and they ended up scrapping it. You can't blame CBS, though. How could they have ever anticipated a reaction like that?
4. National Football League vs. Arena Football. In the first half, the Arena people have to field a normal 11-man team and go head-to-head against the NFL'ers. They'd probably be down 70 at halftime.
But then, for the second half, we move things indoors, and NFL players have to abide by the rules of the 50-yard indoor war. The comeback would be stunning, as Roy Williams had to deal with a guy running full-speed before the ball was snapped, Josh Cribbs had to return kicks off a net, and fans were right there to pour beer on anyone who got slammed into a wall.
I know it sounds like easy pickings for the NFL'ers, but Chris Griesen's TD-to-INT ratio last year was 117-12, and Bobby Sippio scored 53 touchdowns. Tom Brady and Randy Moss can't even touch that.
Pick one, NFL, and go with it. You can steal my ideas, free of charge. Just do something to make this game mean something. Anything. I beg you.
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