After watching the Pro Bowl this weekend, I came to the realization that the game desperately needs some changes. OK, so I didn't really watch the game, but neither did you, and I doubt you know anyone that did. And if someone was watching the game, I am more confident than Jack Bauer in a life threatening situation that they were not paying attention and have no idea what the final score was. It is apparent that the NFL realizes the Pro Bowl needs an energy boost as the game was moved to the weekend before the Super Bowl, which I think will slightly help ratings, but this just isn't nearly enough.
I understand that the game can't be moved to the middle of the season like all other All-Star games, but nobody is ever going to care about the actual outcome of the Pro Bowl as long as it's at the end of the season, so the thinking heads in charge of the greatest run professional sports business need to realize that the best direction to lean toward is entertainment. Take away some of the football aspect and add situations that are guaranteed to attract not only a football audience, but new fans to the game. With all of this in mind, here are some sure fire ways to attract an audience for the Pro Bowl.
Mandatory keg stands for punters, kickers and quarterbacks : These are the three positions that rely heavily on accuracy when performing their craft on the field. So what better way to make it more difficult to be accurate than to require a keg stand before a quarterback leaves the sideline for a series, a kicker comes out for a field goal or a punter attempts to pin the opposing team within its own five-yard line. Now, I am not talking about a wimpy five-second keg stand that wouldn't give Mini-Me a buzz, we are talking about an all out effort here. Any of these guys should be able to perform a one or two minute keg stand with two 400 pound linemen holding them up. Just imagine a field goal kicker nailing his holder in the crotch, a punter kicking the ball thirty yards...backward and a quarterback celebrating after he completes a perfect post pattern...to the mascot on the sideline. I mean, defenses aren't even allowed to rush the kicker on a field goal during games right now and you know that a quarterback won't get laid out so this will most certainly shake things up. Also, if a quarterback has been on the field for a long series and is completing to many passes, there will be a designated beer runner assigned to provide the signal caller with more happy juice between plays.
The announcers should be little kids : I have never really been a very big fan of announcers in general. None of them are allowed to say what is really on their mind because they have to be politically correct, and they don't want to upset the people they are constantly working with and interviewing. With these limitations, announcers tend to repeat simple concepts, explain rules to us that we already know and tell us stories that we could care less about. I know a lot of people who turn the volume off on games and either listen to music or nothing at all. If we had three random kids announcing a game, how entertaining that would be? Remember that show that Bill Cosby used to have, "Kids say the darndest things," well America used to eat that show up. There is nothing better than a kid saying something totally off the wall because he or she can get away with it. Just imagine hearing, "Terrell Owens caught the football. I think it was a touchdown. He made a nice catch, but he sure is a poopie head." I obviously can't recreat the humor involved in this situation because you can't predict what little kids are going to say, which is the beauty of this whole idea. As a matter of fact, they should do this for all games now that I think about it.
Cheerleaders and players alternate playing : This is a pretty simple concept and I can't think of one guy that would argue against this idea. I am not proposing that the players play against the cheerleaders, because that would just be a disaster, but the players would play against eachother for one series and then the cheerleaders would play against eachother for the next series and this would continute throughout the game. And the cheerleaders would wear pads over their outfits with the cutoff jerseys and the eye black. I don't know what it is about women with cutoff jerseys with eye black on, but it makes me smile. Don't tell me that as a Philadelphia Eagles fan, you wouldn't want to see the girl representing your team closeline the cheerleader from the Dallas Cowboys or New York Giants. As a Dolphins fan, I have no doubt our cheerleader would demolish the Jets cheerleader. Man I would probably record that and play it over and over again until it eventually made its way to my screensaver. And on the other side of the equation, while the girls are on the field, the players would be cheering. Now I am not saying I want to see any of them in short skirts, but I would find it pretty humorous to see them jumping up and down with pom poms, while performing some cheer they would undoubtedly butcher like most of their performances in a Saturday Night Live skit. And we all know T.O. already has some experience with pom poms. And yes, that is the second time I have referenced T.O., but I can't help it, he is just to easy to make fun of.
Worst team replace by the animal it represents : This is by far my favorite idea and although it might get a bit out of hand, that is essentially what we are looking for here. Each conference will take one of the teams in last place of its division and send home all the players representing that team, which probably won't be that many if any. Instead, they will be able to play the actual animal that team represents on the field. So for instance, the NFC could selct a lion to play for them and the AFC could select a Jaguar (both teams in last place in their respective divisons). To prevent absolute carnage, neither of the animals could be on the field at the same time and each one can only be used for one play in a series. So if the AFC, was down a touchdown with two seconds left on the clock and was receiving a kickoff, it could just put the Jaguar in and it would be essentially and outomatic touchdown. Plus it would be entertainment at its finest to watch top-notch athletes attempt to tackle a Jaguar. Or if the AFC was going for a first down on fourth and inches, the NFC could just unleash its lion and I am fairly confident the play would end it at least a 15 yard loss, depending on how fast the running back could change directions. Unfortunately, there were no birds in last place this season, as all but one of the bird teams made the playoffs, but just imagine how automatic your offense would be if you could use an eagle or a falcon.
Lineups are pulled out of a hat (helmet) : We all know what Peyton Manning and Larry Fitzerald are capable of as they are well recognized as the best at their respective positions. By the end of the season, nobody really cares if Peyton throws an eighty yard touchdown pass or Larry reels in two touchdown receptions. Yawn! Yawn again! We have already seen that and frankly its not that interesting if our fantasy team isnt kicking ass and the game doesn't count for anything. This situation would easily be remedied if all the players names were thrown into a helmet and a lovely cheerleader pulled their names out to determing the position they would be playing. And I am talking about offensive players playing on defense and special team and vice versa. I know it would be interesting to watch Albert Haynesworth throw a touchdown pass to James Harrison with Jay Culter blocking the play and Drew Brees attempting to make the tackle as Mr. Lewis ran him over like a rag doll. Or better yet, Jeff Feagles attempting to block Troy Polamlu as Andre Ware attempted to punt his team out of the endzone. Now I know this is a nightmare for agents and owners watching their star players attempt to play unfamiliar positions and risk injury, but everyone needs to stop worrying so much and enjoy the damn game. And yes, the lion and the jaguar would also have their names included in the helmet.