The AFC and the NFC combined for 76 points in the 2022 NFL Pro Bowl.
While that high number indicates a shootout between the game’s best players, it was a lopsided affair to the AFC’s favor.
They were already leading by 20 points late in the third quarter, rendering the game boring.
The NFC scored twice to reduce the deficit, but they never threatened the lead.
I mean… this game STINKS
— 🅿️at McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) February 6, 2022
As a result, the Pro Bowl may have continued to alienate fans instead of enticing them to watch.
It’s a largely worthless spectacle for the league’s stars, wherein popularity – not merit – is the main criteria for inclusion.
Perhaps the only ones who cared were the tourists who were already there in Las Vegas, as well as the players’ close friends and families.
There’s no easy way to make the Pro Bowl relevant, but it’s easier to identify why spectators could not care less.
Not All The Best Players Participate
Another game is the last thing they need after a grueling season with an additional regular-season game.
Plus, the monetary incentive to play in the Pro Bowl is smaller than the winner’s share per game.
The top quarterbacks earn ungodly sums of money, making Pro Bowl cash look like loose change.
Therefore, the perks do not motivate the selected players to participate.
— NFL (@NFL) February 6, 2022
Likewise, its schedule makes it impossible for players from Super Bowl-bound teams to attend.
Teams couldn’t risk injuries to their marquee athletes a week before the biggest game of their careers.
You can argue that Pro Bowlers take a step back because the game is for fun anyway.
However, it can still be brutal enough to jeopardize careers, just like what happened to Robert Edwards in 1999.
The New England Patriots running back finished the 1998 season with 1,115 rushing yards and nine touchdowns.
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) February 6, 2022
Unfortunately, he suffered a knee injury during the rookie flag football game that shattered his ACL, MCL, and PCL.
While he returned to the NFL after three years, he wasn’t the same player anymore.
After all, the Pro Bowl is still a football game wherein a gruesome hit can alter a player’s career.
Football’s Unsolvable Problem
Aside from the game’s schedule and the non-participation of other top players, football has a fundamental problem that makes the Pro Bowl the sick cousin of the NBA and the MLB All-Star Games.
Casual fans might not know the players because they wear helmets during the game.
They might know them from pictures or videos outside the game, but the protective gear makes it difficult to match a face to its name.
Compare that reality to basketball and baseball, wherein it’s easier to point out the best players.
PRO BOWL MVP JUSTIN HERBERT pic.twitter.com/tRJmmXr5jf
— Los Angeles Chargers (@chargers) February 6, 2022
Of course, ditching the helmet is impossible.
But most football fans tune in when two teams compete in a hotly-contested game that means something.
That’s why the ratings of the Divisional Weekend and Conference Championship games were through the roof.
Unfortunately, the Pro Bowl doesn’t check those boxes anymore.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 7, 2022
Since it competes with other options anyway, why not bring back the game to Hawaii?
That way, the players will have extra motivation to sign up to take their loved ones on vacation.