Pro Bowl’s Move to Week Before Super Bowl Produced Strong Ratings

The numbers are in and the Pro Bowl ratings were strong — 12.3 million people watched — the most since 2000. Those were particularly strong considering the game was on ESPN instead of NBC, as it was last year. All along I thought the idea to move the Pro Bowl to the week before the Super Bowl was a good one, for many reasons. The primary reason is one expressed by me and shared by many of my listeners on Sporting News Radio, and it is that most sports fans are still in “football mode,” so it’s best to give us all the NFL action we can handle while interest level is up. I actually think they should play it on a Thursday night, a few days before the actual Super Bowl. Tell me that wouldn’t be a good appetizer for the fans.

Even with the interest and ratings for the Pro Bowl being elevated, some changes still should be made. As Colts President Bill Polian most vehemently expressed, the teams participating in the Super Bowl shouldn’t be forced to have their players show up to the game and fragment the team’s traveling plans. Though some media members downplay the importance of an entire team traveling together, it is a big deal to have the entire team make its trip to the Super Bowl together. For one, this rubs it in for players who didn’t make the Pro Bowl when they see teammates getting separate treatment. Secondly, it breaks up routines established during the season that teams don’t want altered. Lastly, the biggest leaders of teams aren’t around to help set the tone for their teammates. If you don’t think that’s important, recall that the Giants dressed in all black for business when they traveled to Glendale before beating the Patriots.

Another change the NFL should make regarding the Pro Bowl is noting a difference between players voted onto the original squad and those who made it as alternates. Often times the alternates were very deserving players (see the NFC wide receiver alternates), but sometimes guys like David Garrard and Vince Young make it onto the squad and then get to put “Pro Bowl quarterback” on their resume when they really didn’t play at a Pro Bowl level this year. When these guys retire and we’re evaluating their credentials for the Hall of Fame and whatnot, it should be important to distinguish that guys like VY and Garrard made it only because Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, and Carson Palmer all were either unavailable or injured, and turned down the offer. Look at that list and tell me those guys don’t deserve asterisks.

Finally, don’t complain about the level of competition for the game; you’ll never get guys to put their health and bodies on the line for a meaningless game unless you pay them tons of money. Even then I wouldn’t bet on it.

Around The Web

  • Kevin/Indianapolis

    12 million morons in a country of 330 million. If it involves football, some people will watch almost anything.

  • SpinMax

    wasn’t me

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    Believe me, it wasn’t me either. I really don’t get who would watch, much less why.

  • Gene

    The only all star game worth watching at any time is baseball, and even then I am not that interested. The other three major sports do not lend themselves to all star games because of the need to play hard on defense. Basketball games with scores of 155-149 are track meets. Hockey games of 15-12 do not ring true. Football is even more physical and players are subject to career threatening injury. in addition, you cannot blitz or resort to other tactics which could put a player in jeopardy. Even baseball, while not physically violent, has rules changes (pitchers can only go three innings, etc.). Check out Ted Williams in 1950 if you don’t think even that is dangerous. The guy broke his arm crashing into the wall and missed the rest of the regular season (yes, Williams actually played defense that day).

    I like the idea of skills competition for the NFL. I would love to see the NFL hold a 40 yard dash for all comers in full uniform. I note that attendance at the NFL pro bowl was over 70,000 this year, the highest it has been since 1959 in Los Angeles. Kudos for bringing the game back to the mainland.