Each and every year people continue to ignore what could easily be one of the most pleasurable spectacles in Football. Star players of the NHL each year show out to a fun, entertaining, and outright enjoyable event. Just look at this photo of Brent Burns and P.K. Subban.
Some hilarious antics by professional hockey players knowing that the All-Star Game is about garnering the best of the best in a fun, and ENTERTAINING process. And the reason why?
Because it's not taken seriously. It's built on the enjoyment of fans. No serious implications such as the MLB All-star game. To those that don't know the winner of NL vs. AL get home field advantage in the World Series (Imagine if it was AFC Vs. NFC for true Super Bowl home field advantage).
Getting back on track, the NHL can salvage the NFL Pro-Bowl by once again helping to bring back old-school antics, and establish new rules.
To those that don't follow the NHL, they penalize voted players with a 1 game suspension for not going. A fair punishment for the player, and his team. While that wouldn't work in the NFL (16 game season vs. 82 game season, massive repercussions) there should still be a penalty. Some suggest incentives for playing, some suggest HEFTY fines, but also I've recently seen other ideas, one namely from Adam Bonaccorsi, a writer for Russell Street Report another suggestion. A three strikes you're out rule, that if denied three times you miss a game in the regular season. While I may not agree, it may be necessary to avoid the problems the NFL pro bowl might become.
First and foremost, the NHL can help by simply showing the NFL that Skills Competitions are what fans want to see. The fastest athletes running drills, quarterback's throwing into the literal tightest of windows with pinpoint accuracy, and other exhilirating competitions that show the most talented footballers flair.
Secondly, the NFL needs to establish new rules, forcing their voted pro-bowl talents to show out.
The amount of Pro bowls a player has is included in his legacy. As an example, when arguing that X player is better than Y player, included is their amount of pro-bowls. When the Hall of Fame Voters select NFL talents to be enshrined for eternity is the pro-bowl totals. While that is not the be-all end-all of numbers, they are included, and this year especially completely ruins the use of pro-bowls. Not a huge deal, but this season is proving the problem is growing. This season, there are 133 Pro-Bowl players. After so many declined invitations, and players competing in the Super Bowl, the game has become diluted to almost 8% of the league being invited/playing this season. Back-ups of back-ups are now given an award which players are judged for in the Hall of Fame, which they were second, third, or even fourth in line to be earned.
As mentioned earlier, the NFL needs to fix this. I don't have the answer completely, but I also have suggestions. Punish the players. Taking a certain percentage of their contract may sway a particular player. Imagine Aaron Rodgers not attending the pro bowl. If they took 2.5% of his contract for declining. Now that doesn't sound like much, but a $2.75 million dollar fine would maybe sway discount double check himself to double check the pro bowl out. And if that wouldn't work, I would assume after 3 years he would switch it up to attending after losing around $6 million to abandoning the game.
It could also rise in percentage. First offense, 2.5%. Second offense, 3.5%. Consistently rising in percentages.
I'm not a big fan of Roger Goodell and his constant fining of players, but when you're fan voted for such an amazing opportunity, (trip to Hawaii, being adored by fans, playing in a friendly competition with the best of the best in the National Football League) and you're doing it because you just aren't feeling it, maybe you should show out. Players are paid these crazy high contracts, and these fans want to watch the entertainment. This isn't just a sport, but a business as well.
There is no true right or wrong answer, but clearly the pro bowl is a gimmick of what the event could be. Skills competitions, incentives, or punishments, all ideas to garner the attention of millions.