Perhaps NFL fans aren’t the only ones who can’t stand the Pro Bowl these days.
According to Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report, players are purposefully avoiding the game as a means to send a message to the league that the Pro Bowl simply needs to die.
A prominent NFL agent, speaking with Freeman, spelled it out:
“Players despise the game now more than ever in all the time I’ve been around the NFL,” he said. “They see it as not only a waste of time, but a detriment to their recovery process.”
This year’s Pro Bowl saw more players decline the “honor” of attending than we’ve ever seen before. In total, 47 players bowed out for various reasons, some much more valid than others.
Obviously injuries are a concern, and they always have been. But far too often these days players are choosing not to attend the Pro Bowl for personal reasons, like Philip Rivers, who isn’t attending for the second straight year:
“It’s a school week for his family, and he and wife Tiffany welcomed their sixth daughter and eighth child in October,” wrote Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune. “Plenty of work around the house is to be done…”
We all know Rivers is a family man, but choosing housework over a trip to Hawaii is almost a blasphemous statement to most of us.
In addition to the lack of interest from players, television ratings dipped significantly last year, despite the NFL’s attempt to spice things up with the “Team Irvin” and “Team Sanders” fantasy draft format.
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 league would be smart to completely revamp how it approaches the entire thing. Perhaps a full-blown game isn’t what’s needed any more to honor those who were voted in.
At this point, it’s clear that interest in this game is at an all-time low. Players and fans find it more meaningless than ever. Perhaps it really is time to let the thing die.