Was The Decision To Move the NFL Pro Bowl A Good Move?
Simply put it was the wrong decision. There are two main changes and both are having a negative effect on the game. The first is moving the game from Hawaii. I know the hope was to get more fan support and make it easier to sell out the game if it was in the Continental United States, but the NFL took away the one tie they had with the islands, as well as an added bonus for players to go and play in the game. While I realize its cheaper for the NFL and fans alike to stay on the mainland with the Pro Bowl, I think it would be a mistake to completely ignore the tradition and benefit of Hawaii. If this year showed us anything, it is that players could use another reason to go to the game, with all the players not playing in the game.
It is a pretty sad sight when David Garrard is one of the three AFC Pro Bowl Quarterbacks (Vince Young isn’t much better of a choice either). Garrard hasn’t exactly set the league by storm in his career, and last year was no exception. Garrard ranked 9th in the AFC in quarterback rating (Young was 10th, but in fairness he played only two-thirds a season) and none of his other numbers were much better. What’s worse about Garrard is that this “Pro Bowl caliber” quarterback, might not even be with the Jaguars next season because of his ineffectiveness (more likely he will be warming the spot for some rookie for one more year). His own team questions his ability to lead yet, yet he is one of the field generals for the conference?
In actuality, moving the game from Hawaii isn’t the real reason why the David Garrard’s of league are playing in the game this Sunday. But rather the decision to move the game to the week before the Super Bowl. On paper I think the idea made sense (especially with playing the game in Miami). It keeps the NFL in the news during a week where little attention is given to it. More fans are apt to come out to the game and events with the Super Bowl in town the next week. But, I think the NFL forgot about the biggest issue of playing the game the week before the Super Bowl, and that is that none of those players are available for the Pro Bowl. This year that means 14 players who were selected for the Pro Bowl (and would have been more if the Vikings, Cowboys or Eagles were in the Super Bowl) won’t be available. That’s quite a big chunk of the rosters. What’s even worse is the NFL is making the Super Bowl Pro Bowlers to make an appearance at the game, even if they are injured. They should be healing up and working on getting ready for the biggest game of their life, not attending the Pro Bowl.
While it seemed like a good idea on paper to move the Pro Bowl, to increase attention and fan support, I think it ended up backfiring in the end. Hopefully the league will go back to the original format and look on ways to make that better. And hopefully we won’t be seeing anymore David Garrard sightings in the Pro Bowl.