This weekend, I sat down and watched both the NHL All-Star Skill Competition and the All-Star Game, but did not find myself tuning in to the NFL Pro Bowl. Granted, I am more of a fan of hockey than football, but that was not the reason I decided not to tune into the Pro Bowl.
Both the NFL and NHL have implemented a “fantasy draft” in their respective All-Star games, bringing a new element to the event to get the fans more excited and its seemed to work well for both leagues. However, I still find myself more inclined to be interested in the NHL All-Stars than the NFL ones.
While both games really do not showcase the real skill of either leagues players because of the lack of contact between the offenses and defenses, what draws me into the NHL All Star festivities is the Skills Competition the night before. From Shea Weber blasting slap shots at 108 mph to fantastic moves by both goaltenders and shooters in the shootout challenge, the NHL Skills Competition is something both the fans and the players can enjoy. It showcases the players’ pure talent.
The NFL had a Pro Bowl Skills Challenge that they got rid of after 2007, but I think they should bring it back. Bring back the 40-yard dash, accuracy throw for quarterbacks, distance kicks, catching and bench press. I want to see Odell Beckham Jr. against Calvin Johnson or Dez Bryant in the battle for most spectacular catch and Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees actually go against one another in a throw off. Doesn’t everyone want to know who is stronger: J.J. Watt or Clay Matthews? Even though this is the way players’ skills are tested in the Combine before the NFL Draft, why not get the veterans in on the action and give NFL fans another reason to tune in to watch some football the week before the Super Bowl?
You can also add in a few quirks to the events and put in some extras too. Just as the NHL puts goalies in the fastest skater competition, the NFL could put two offensive linemen against one another in the 40yd dash to see who would win in a big man race. Maybe get some wide outs or tight ends involved in the kicker challenge to see if they could do as good a job as Pat McAfee. You could even add in a relay race like the NHL has: have a running back run through cones, followed by a defensive lineman pushing sleds a certain distance, then a quarterback having to hit three receivers from three separate distances and finish with a kicker having to hit a 30, 40 and 50yd field goal.
It seems to be a major attraction for NHL fans, and I am sure NFL fans would love to see it too. And, I am sure the players would not be opposed, even how much fun the NHL players had on the benches Saturday night in Columbus. Make the Pro Bowl a weekend event, NFL. You will not be disappointed.