The NFL’s Pro Bowl is by far the worst All-Star game among the four major sports leagues, and often the most mocked. The actual game ended up being scrapped in favor of a flag football game between the AFC and NFC squads, as well as having a series of skills competitions and games. The transition away from a tackle game and embracing flag football and minigames was absolutely needed, but now another problem needs to be addressed. That problem is Pro Bowl selection.
Typically the way the Pro Bowl works is coaches, players, and fans submit their ballots. Right there that’s a bit of a problem, fans submitting ballots. Don’t get me wrong, it’s cool to be able to vote for your favourite players to go to the Pro Bowl, and fan ballots do not hold anywhere near the same weight as players and coaches in the league, but it can still muddy the waters a fair bit. I don’t think that will change at all, since it’s fun and engaging to have fans vote for Pro Bowlers, but it does decrease the significance of the award.
First, the selections don’t even cover the full season. The week of fun happens after the season ends, so all voting should end after the regular season as late-season heroics often go unnoticed like Tom Brady in 2020. It makes no sense that almost a quarter of the season just doesn’t matter for the league’s version of an All-Star game. That needs to be fixed before anything else. Just push the roster decisions back, it’s a very simple fix.
Then we have Pro Bowl alternates, the second issue here. If players go to the Super Bowl, they don’t play in the Pro Bowl. Back when it was a tackle game, substitutes and alternates were needed to fill out a roster, but now since it’s a flag game with skills challenges, those are not needed. We don’t need Tyler Huntley going to the Pro Bowl with two touchdown passes and three interceptions, Derek Carr somehow made the Pro Bowl this year (which is less egregious), there is a clear problem here. Tyler Huntley now has as many Pro Bowls as Matthew Stafford, the credibility of the award has been torpedoed so badly that it should not come up in Hall of Fame discussions at all, but it does.
So how do we fix this? That answer is simple, do not have alternates, or cap it at two alternates, and only if an original player goes to the Super Bowl. We don’t need three quarterbacks for a flag football game. But there is one more issue, the defensive players are wildly unbalanced.
The NFC roster has three defensive ends and three outside linebackers for a total of six edge defenders. They have three interior defensive linemen, and two inside linebackers. What? Just make the denotation of edge, interior defensive line, and linebacker. Make it even, because that makes the most sense.