Pro Bowl: How about London?
My brother came up with a good idea. Well, I don’t know if it’s a good idea. But it’s an idea worth considering. Move the Pro Bowl to London.
Here’s the rationale. Looks like we’re stuck with the Pro Bowl. Nobody knows what to do with the NFL’s all-star game. Nobody knows how to turn it into a real game. It’s like an exhibition game, except without young players trying to show someone they can play. For proven players, an exhibition game can only bring the bad news of injury.
So the Pro Bowl becomes a shell of a real football game. Little hard-hitting. Little all-out play. It’s like those three-quarters practices, with players in helmets and shoulder pads, but no football pants.
And it’s a game few want to play. At times Sunday night, the quarterbacks in the game were Andy Dalton and Cam Newton. Nothing against either rookie, who were excellent as first-year quarterbacks. But neither is in the upper half of quarterbacks in their conference. The Super Bowl quarterbacks are ineligible, of course, since they’ve got a game to play and the Pro Bowl futilely was moved to the week before the Super Bowl as a way to increase interest. Then you factor in injuries, which always mount late in the year. And then account for anyone with the good sense to avoid meaningless hits, and the Pro Bowl becomes something less than an all-star game.
Here’s an example of the difference in all-star games. Last year, LaMarcus Aldridge, a thoroughly wonderful player for the Portland TrailBlazers, didn’t make the NBA All-Star Game. Kevin Love didn’t even make it, originally, but was added when Yao Ming was scratched for injury. But there was no room for Aldridge. Meanwhile, Andy Dalton and Cam Newton, thoroughly middle-of-the-road quarterbacks (albeit promising) play in the Pro Bowl.
So what to do with the Pro Bowl?
Well, there’s this London thing. The NFL seems determined to take its game to Merry Old England. The NFL has played regular-season games in London’s Wembley Stadium five straight years: Giants-Dolphins in 2007, Chargers-Saints in 2008, Patriots-Buccaneers in 2009, Broncos-49ers in 2010 and Bears-Buccaneers in 2011. Now, the Rams have agreed to move a home game each of the next three seasons to London.
St. Louis officials are saying that violates the Rams’ lease in their dome, all the while there’s speculation that the Rams are bucking for a move back to Los Angeles.
Getting teams to move games to London is difficult. Stately and/or successful franchises won’t do it. Ends up being struggling franchises like the Bucs. Wonder of wonders that Jacksonville hasn’t gone for it.
So why not move the Pro Bowl to London? I know that Honolulu, the usual home of the Pro Bowl, is an enticement to get reluctant players to participate, but wouldn’t London hold some allure?
I see two problems with London:
1. The product is so bad, it’s not a great marketing tool for the NFL in Europe. A whole lot of fans wouldn’t know they were getting a bad brand of football. But they also wouldn’t become all that attached to the game. You go to Europe to grow the sport, not to make people shrug.
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