So what’s the deal with the NFL Pro Bowl?
The season is finally climaxing. We’ve gone through the draft, the pre-season, the regular season, the post-season, and now there’s only two sides remaining who are set to compete for NFLs most sought after prize – the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
But then, in-between discussions on whether Payton Manning will win a Super Bowl in what is possibly his last ever game. And amongst detailed analysis of whether Cam Newton is good enough to take on the Denver Broncos’ defence, there’s this thing called the Pro Bowl.
So let’s take a look at the Pro Bowl – what is it? What does it means? And what is it worth?
So what is the NFL Pro Bowl?
The Pro Bowl is an invite only game that is intended to be between the best NFL players of the season. The concept dates back to 1939 when the New York Giants played, and defeated an All-Star team. Since then, many versions, dates, and locations of the game have been trialled. However, since 2010 the game has been played the week before the Superbowl (it was previously played the week after) and since 2014, rather than an AFC vs. NFC game, the teams are selected through a fantasy draft with former players as head coaches. This year’s game is between Team Rice and Team Irvin.
How does Pro-Bowl Selection Take Place?
Selection of who is eligible for the Pro Bowl draft is done by a ballot of fans, players and coaches with each group’s votes having a one third weighting. From this ballot 86 players are selected for the draft. The two highest offensive vote getters and the two highest defensive vote getters become anointed as captains so long as they are not from teams who are in Conference Championship games. A coin in then tossed between the two coaches and the winner can choose either the first pick of captain, or the first pick in the draft. Following this, each team takes turns at making their selection. Confused? Well this is the NFL. For a list of who is playing in the 2016 Pro Bowl, check out this link.
But wait! Where are all the good Players?
Here lies one of the criticisms placed at the Pro Bowl: despite the voting system, generally there’s a real shortage of the year’s best players. Players will generally decline because they are in the Superbowl or because they’re suffering from an injury, but there has also been many instances of players declining just simply because they’re not interested. In fact, the 2016 Pro Bowl saw a record number of 47 players decline. This means no Tom Brady, no Cam Newton, no Aaron Rodgers, and no Ben Roesthlisberger. And while it’s understandable that Cam Newton would prefer the week to rest, the remaining players weren’t enticed by a free trip to Hawaii and a $58,000 winner’s bonus, or a $29,000 bonus if you’re on the losing team.
Maybe they’re Scared of Getting Injured?
This is true – and no team wants to see their star quarterback sustain a knee or shoulder injury ever, let along in a game that’s only for exhibition purposes. But for this reason the NFL has introduced several rules in the hope of limiting the chance of injury. This includes allowing the quarterback to intentionally ground the ball to avoid being sacked, and limitations on blitzes and defensive formations. But there are also other rule changes this year such as narrowed goal posts, two time outs per quarter, no kickoffs, and the changing of possession each quarter. These rule changes are often criticised by fans as making the game uninteresting and confusing to watch.
A Pro Bowl in Australia?
With the announcement that the opening game of the 2016 College season would be played in Sydney, along with increase interest in the code as a consequence Jarryd Hayne’s conversion, this could be a possibility. The NFL has expressed its desire to expand into other markets by playing more games outside of the United States, and both Melbourne and Sydney are reportedly in negotiations with the NFL over hosting the 2017 Pro Bowl, although so is Brazil. However, the weakness for the Australian bid would be the terrible television ratings time it would place the game in. For the game to be shown on the US East Coast at 6.30 PM on a Sunday, it would need to be played in Sydney or Melbourne at 11am Monday.
Can I watch the 2016 game in Australia?
Sure can! The game will be shown live on 7mate at 11am Monday (AEST).