The overnight television ratings for this year's NFL Pro Bowl are in, and the news isn't good.
For the second straight year, ratings dipped:
Pro Bowl drew 5.6 overnight rating on ESPN, down from 6.7 on NBC last year, which competed w/ Grammys. Game drew 7.7 on NBC in '13
— Austin Karp (@AustinKarp) January 26, 2015
The Pro Bowl has been a work-in-progress since its inception in 1950 (although the concept of an all-star game has been around since 1939.) Common sense dictates an all-star game for football is more difficult to pull off than other sports: the players are actively trying to avoid injury. The result is a strange, pseudo-football game with half-hearted tackling.
Another major issue is the lack of all-stars who play in the NFL's all-star game. Quarterback Andy Dalton was a last-minute replacement for Aaron Rodgers. Dalton threw the third-most interceptions of any quarterback in the league this season. (Fellow Pro Bowl replacement Drew Brees tied Dalton's mark.)
But how can the NFL fix the Pro Bowl? The league has tried various methods over the years. 2014 marked the first year captains picked teams, playground style. The NFL adopted this idea from the NHL and billed it as "real-life fantasy football."
The NFL has also experimented with narrower uprights, although kickers haven't exactly been thrilled with the change.
Here's a solution: make the Pro Bowl a skills competition. The NBA's three-point shooting contest is already enjoying buzz after both of Golden State's Splash Brothers, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry, reportedly signed on this year. Major League Baseball has the Home Run Derby. The NHL has a skills competition that includes fastest skater and accuracy shooting contests. And who wouldn't want to watch Odell Beckham Jr make spectacular one-handed catch after one-handed catch?
Odell Beckham Jr played the season w/ TWO hamstring tears. Yes, the guy was doing this w/ two hamstring tears. WOW http://t.co/WXokZc4zS0
— Pro Football on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) January 26, 2015
And that's only the tip of the iceberg. Let's see who would win in a foot-race between Calvin Johnson and Julio Jones. Who can bench-press the most weight? Which non-kickers can make the longest field goal? The possibilities are endless — and more interesting than watching glorified flag football.