Yes, I was one of the few who actually admit that I watched this year’s NFL Pro Bowl on Saturday evening. As I snuggled up to my 42 in. plasma television with carry out from my favorite Northbrook, IL eatery, Francesca’s (great Italian food, by the way!) I watched what was actually a very interesting and entertaining Pro Bowl game. Devin Hester took the opening kickoff to the 19 yard line where he was tripped up by some sketchy Honolulu astro turf sort of stuff. What a difference a week makes for Hester. Actually, I couldn’t believe that the AFC actually kicked away from Hester on their second kickoff of the game. Come on, this is the PRO BOWL, not the Super Bowl. I suppose you want to turn off the few fans watching by not letting the game’s most prolific returner actually return a kick. The other thing about the Pro Bowl is that it would have been nice to see some of our own Chicago Bears players actually playing in the game (or even showing up, for that matter.)
Is RB Tiki Barber retiring just in time? He clearly has lost a large amount of arm strength as indicated by the INT he threw to Ed Reed in the 1st quarter. He is clearly washed up. (well, maybe not so much) Drew Brees injury is the poster child for why many feel that the Pro Bowl is not a good game to play.
So I was happy to see that the NFL actually took most of my Top 5 ways to make the Pro Bowl better, and we, as the fans, will be the better off for that. My Top 5 suggestions were:
1. Play the game on Saturday instead of Sunday. I think they ought to play the Super Bowl on a Saturday too, seeing as it usually takes another full day to recover, whether you are at the game or at home hosting a Super Bowl party. Either way, these games work better on Saturdays, for do we really want to take a vacation day for the Super Bowl? And do we really want to stay up until 10pm on a Sunday night to watch the Pro Bowl (and miss Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy and all those other Sunday night staples that are as additictive as crack?)
2. Mike all the players, let the fans hear what really goes on in the huddle. CBS did a great job of doing this, but the mikes they had SUCKED. I couldn’t hear squat when the QB’s were calling the plays. Fortunately, they had the play callers on both sides miked and when they switched to that, it worked brilliantly. Next year, get better microphones so we can hear what’s going on. Also, loved that Dan Dierdorf and Phil Simms were explaining what the play terminology meant. That was the best part of the game in my opinion.
3. Introduce a Skills Competition. This was great to see at halftime of the game. The kicking competition between Robbie Gould and Nate Kaeding was priceless and very entertaining. The other skills competitions I actually watched on the NFL Network. They were entertaining as well, with a strong man competition (# of reps at 225 lbs.) a passing, receiving competitions and a gauntlet competition that was entertaining. How about the NFL Cheerleader Playoffs? In fact, the NFL should require all teams to have cheerleaders next season. Since my Bears don’t have them, here is a shot of what could be:
4. More behind the scenes video. I want to see what a practice is like. I also want to go into the locker room and see what a player has to go through to get ready for a game, what do they do, how do they get ready. Blooper videos are also fun. How do the players spend the week in Honolulu? How about players interviewing players and coaches? How about pulling a fan out of the stands or better yet, having a fan win one of those season long NFL contests and have them call plays for the playcaller for one or two series (10 plays) for each team?
5. Amend the rules for more action. I love what the NFL to the rules for this game. No blitzes, no rushing the kickers, rules promoting one on one coverage, no ruling challenges. That was fantastic. Those rule changes brought out some nice play, some great 1 on 1 challenges (Champ Bailey vs. Donald Driver was pretty good)