Dear Mr. Commissioner:
I write a simple letter as a fan of the National Football League.
I beg you, I implore you, I simply ask you to do what so many of us want and need – we need you to finally pull the plug on the travesty that is the Pro Bowl. It has become the laughingstock of all major league sports; it is an embarrassment to the game and nothing more than a glorified flag football game for the players. Many of the players want it to continue for their own gratification. That’s fine. I understand pocketing a few grand, spending a week on the islands with the family and friends, and the honor of playing with some of the best of their brethren. That’s all well and good.
But you’ve got to look beyond that hedonistic view. You’ve got to understand the view from our side. When we turn on the television (because God knows we’ll never have the bucks to travel to Hawaii for a football game!) we want to see a real football game – yes, one with penalties, real hitting, passing, running, blocking and tackling.
If you think we saw that in Sunday’s Pro Bowl game, you are misguided. Despite what many of the players said and despite the fact that J.J. Watt cut his finger and bled all over himself, the effort was the same as in the past. Yes, maybe they turned it up a notch for show, it was maybe up a notch from off.
If you want to save the integrity of the NFL, please get rid of this game a relieve us of this pain. The conclusion of the season is bad enough for 31 teams, let’s not make it excruciating by allowing our best players (well, at least some of our best players) to participate in this joke.
I really don’t care if you replace it with something else – yes, anything else would probably be better. Would that be a skills competition or some other sort of competition along those lines? I’m not sure.
All I know is that this game has got to go.
Nearly 100 point scored? The 1985 Bears defense is gagging. Four penalties for 34 yards? Ed Hochuli got it right when he joked, “yes, there are penalties in the Pro Bowl …” Thirteen touchdowns and two field goals by a single team in a single game? Ridiculous.
This was not fun to watch. Where was the drama? Where was the emotion? Where was the effort?
Well, it surely wasn’t on that Hawaiian football field.
Oh sure, there were touching moments. When Jeff Saturday joined the AFC squad for one last hike to Peyton Manning, we all said, “awwwwww.”
But there were awkward moments, too. When Minnesota Vikings tight end was named the game’s MVP for his 122 yards, that was a nice touch. Consider that 52 of those yards came on a pass when he was covered by a defensive end and on a pass from Eli Manning who had about 10 seconds to deliver the ball downfield.
And then there were just stupid moments. When JJ Watt lined up as a wide receiver and was covered by Jason Pierre-Paul who proceeded to intercept the ball, we all knew that was a fitting end to a simply stupid game.
I guess we’ll have to await the final game of the season – the Super Bowl – to see that part of the game that we all know and love.
If this league is going to survive, you’ve got to make it tougher, not softer. The fans won’t stand for it. The reason people buy tickets is to see a real football game.
C’mon, Man! Let’s get real. Let’s show the fans of the NFL that you care. Let’s do it before it’s too late, before the fans start walking away.
Let’s ease the pain and get rid of the Pro Bowl.