The NFL is seriously considering abandoning the Pro Bowl, and judging by the level of play of the 2012 game and the potential risk of injury to elite players, that's probably a good thing.
Commissioner Roger Goodell had previously expressed concerns about the quality of play of what basically is an All-Star game played annually in Honolulu, where players are cautious to avoid getting hurt, if they even show up at all. Twenty-four of the players selected to play in the 2012 game did not actually dress and were replaced by alternates.
No determination has been made yet, said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, in response to an ESPN report that claimed the game would be shelved.
Goodell is on the right track by mulling the long overdue end to a game that basically amounts to a pointless exercise for football players who have endured a long season. The game is not attractive football, it doesn't actually feature the best in the game once half the rosters have begged out via injury or in some cases, injury and there is little fan interest in the outcome as there is little rivalry between the American Football Conference and the National Football Conference.
The 2012 Pro Bowl was a glaring example of how players don't give their best effort.
Players love the trip to Hawaii but don't care for the game itself, said Simon Samano of NFL.com, after the 2012 Pro Bowl. They have no desire to risk injury in a 'meaningless' game, which is why they don't play hard, which is how you end up with 59-41 as the final score. It's that lack of effort that caused fans to boo during portions of this year's game.
Quarterbacks Philip Rivers and Aaron Rodgers both expressed disappointment with the quality of play in the last Pro Bowl. But if the players actually began to take the game seriously, the results could actually be worse.
Should a hard hit injure a player, there would be incessant criticism from every angle as to the purpose of the game, and the motives of the player. Not to mention the effect a major injury to a star player would have on his team for the following season.
In baseball, Pete Rose came under criticism for bowling over catcher Ray Fosse in the 1970 All-Star game. In the NFL, the risk of injury is much higher, and a player who decides that he wants to give his best effort in the Pro Bowl could be gambling with his and his opponent's career.
In a way, Goodell is doing early damage control by preventing unneeded scrutiny.
Goodell should move swiftly to end the game, and come up with a better way to show appreciation for the fans. The Pro Bowl, as it is currently consituted, represents nothing more than a paid vacation for NFL players at the expense of the league.