For the love of all things holy, can we just get rid of the Pro Bowl?
It’s long been an anticlimactic event, but the 2019 rendition was so abhorrent I felt compelled to write about it.
Since 2010, when the Pro Bowl moved to the weekend before the Super Bowl, it’s involved players who don’t want to be there. It’s a consolation prize worse than socks for Christmas.
Imagine being Saints running back Alvin Kamara, whose team was all but robbed of a Super Bowl berth by an inexcusably bad no-call, and having to pretend you have a single shred of interest in going to Orlando for the Pro Bowl instead.
And, as NFL egos grow and interest in the game deflates faster than a Tom Brady football in the playoffs, more and more players elect not to participate in the game. The 2019 contest saw a whopping 28 substitutes, moving so far down the list of talent that Dak Prescott – who ranked 15th in passing yards and 16th in touchdowns in a rather pedestrian season saved by the acquisition of Amari Cooper – got the nod as a substitute for Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
Among the players skipping the Pro Bowl this year for non-Super Bowl reasons: Antonio Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, Travis Kelce, Phillip Rivers, Jadeveon Clowney, JJ Watt, Michael Thomas, Aaron Rodgers, Khalil Mack, Luke Kuechly and more.
… so, like, an actual Pro Bowl roster.
Then there’s the quality of play. Not only has the NFL has deprived its fans of seeing the best players from the best teams, and the rest of the real all-stars further decimate the rosters with their refusal to be inconvenienced by the contest, but now we have to watch what is essentially two-hand touch football.
The most formidable ball-carriers in the league become allergic to contact in the Pro Bowl. Plays are blown dead when a defender gets in the area of a runner. The result was a collective 75 passing attempts and 27 rushing attempts in Sunday’s snoozefest (which was actually more balanced than the 2018 Pro Bowl).
Remember when things like this used to happen at the Pro Bowl?
For contrast, check out this debacle of a play, just because:
If you couldn’t tell, that was Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans intercepting a pass, and a whole comedy of errors that involved running backs on defense and more laterals than anyone should care for.
Ezekiel Elliott played both linebacker and quarterback at different times Sunday. Kamara and Giants running back Saquon Barkley also rushed the passer, in a game where the best real pass-rushers in the game were on the sideline.
To make matters worse, someone who gets paid to make decisions for the NFL actually chose the Cowboys’ coaching staff to man the NFC squad.
That’s right, the staff that employs the league’s leading rusher but only managed the 22nd-ranked offense in the NFL. The staff that gets outsmarted at every turn on any big stage. The staff that, even when given their conference’s best talent at every position, can only muster 148 total yards in a game where the opponent is afraid to tackle.
If all of that wasn't enough to make you turn the channel, you were blessed with a post-game flub from Cowboys legend and much-maligned broadcaster Jason Witten. After a turbulent debut season in the booth, Witten's coup de gras came when he broke the Pro Bowl MVP trophy while presenting it to the AFC's Patrick Mahomes and Jamal Adams.
The jokes write themselves.
And the Pro Bowl has been writing a long, bad joke for about a decade. It’s a stand-up routine that’s absolutely bombing, and I just want it to end.
For the love of all that is holy, please just get rid of the Pro Bowl.