Heck No, Pro-Bowl Shouldn’t Go!!!
Two weeks ago the NFL held its annual Pro-Bowl all star game. As usual fans and analysts agreed in their dislike for it. As usual I disagreed. The Pro-Bowl is a phenomenal game and the idea that the league is even thinking of getting rid of it is ludicrous. Getting rid of the Pro-Bowl would make as much sense as buying your wife a Stair-master for Valentines day.
The biggest knock against the game is the lack of defense/explosion of offense. Fans feel the players don’t play hard. While the statistical numbers may be gaudy many of them aren’t that far off from regular season numbers. For starters take a look at the total yards. The AFC defense, which featured NFL Defensive Player Of The Year J.J. Watt, allowed 478 total yards. That may seem a bit extreme until you consider the New Orleans Saints. The Saints allowed a monstrous 440.1 yards a game this season, only 30 less than the AFC “all-stars”. The AFC allowed 6.5 yards a play, the exact same total allowed by New Orleans. Should commissioner Roger Goodell do away with all New Orleans games?
Keeping with the Saints, examine their offense, run by beloved QB Drew Brees. New Orleans averaged 22 first downs per game. That was actually second most to New England which averaged a whopping 27.8 first downs. In contrast the AFC managed only 22 first downs in the Pro-Browl. Brees and Patriots QB Tom Brady are largely considered two of the top five quarterbacks in the league but nobody is suggesting canceling any of their starts.
People say there is too much passing in the Pro-Bowl. People say the ball gets chucked around more than a baseball steroid allegation. Not true actually. This year the NFC attempted only 44 passes. That’s less than the Detroit Lions who threw the ball an average of 46.2 times a game. The AFC gained a pedestrian 356 total yards in Hawaii. Thirteen NFL teams averaged more yards per game this past season. Thirteen!!! That’s nearly half the league. A big deal was also made about the NFC scoring an astounding 62 points this year. While that is a lot it isn’t indicative of all Pro-Browls. Eliminating this year we can go back as far as ten years and get a better understanding of the scoring. The winning team for the last ten years has averaged 41.9 points a game. While its may seem high lets not forget the Seattle Seahawks put up back to back weeks of 50+ points this year. Fans were loving it when Pete Carroll’s boys ran up the score on Arizona and then Buffalo.
Aside from the numbers there were just too many fun moments in this years game to pass up. There was J.J. Watts injured finger which looked more like a Rick Baker special effect. It was gushing more blood than Bruce Willis in a Die-Hard movie. There was also the sight of Watt lining up on offense and attempting to catch a pass. It brought back wonderful memories of William Perry barreling in for a score in Super Bowl XX. There was referee Ed Hochuli doing his best George Carlin impression by announcing before a penalty, “Yes there are penalties in the Pro-Bowl”.
The best part of the game though, came with 4:56 left in the first quarter. Offensive lineman Jeff Saturday switched sides from the NFC to the AFC to give one more snap to longtime teammate Peyton Manning. Now I consider myself a sentimental man (heck, I cried at E.T.) so it nearly brought me to tears to see Saturday lineup once more for the man he fed snaps to for twelve of his fourteen years in the league.
Football is not the only sport where an all-star game is an outburst of offense/lack of quality defense. Over the past five years in the NBA the average score in an all-star game is 139.9 points. That’s 32.36 points higher than the NBAs highest scoring team average over the same span (107.54 points a game).
If some is good, more is better. Give me more explosions in a Michael Bay movie. Give me a spoonful of sugar on my Frosted Flakes. Give me more games in a baseball season. Homer Simpson said it best, “I like my beer cold and my music loud”. I guess I’m just a guy that likes the offense and intrigue the Pro-Bowl brings and I’m just the only guy that hopes it stays around for many years to come.