We've seen and heard something in the last couple weeks that I can't recall ever happening before. People talking about the Pro Bowl. Yes, the Pro Bowl! That most meaningless of All-Star games. A game hardly anybody watches. A game hardly anybody cares about. Even the most diehard of NFL fans, like us at Past Interference, don't care about it. To belabor the obvious, nobody cares because: (1) Nobody tries; it's an exhibition; and (2) End of Super Bowl = end of football interest (until next season). Nothing to be done about reason number one but in a logical attempt to do something about reason number two the NFL (as you may have heard) moved the Pro Bowl from its usual spot, Hawaii, to a new spot, Miami, and from it's usual slot, a week after the Super Bowl, to a new slot, a week before the Super Bowl (8 commas in one sentence). Oh noes! The flood of negative reaction these moves produced might have fooled someone into thinking people now actually care about the Pro Bowl. But really, some people just need something to talk about, argue about and yell about. Yes, there's a small downside to the NFL's plan. Holding the game before the Super Bowl means the guys playing in the Super Bowl can't make the Pro Bowl. The absence of those guys plus the usual injury scratches left us with the ridiculous specatacle of a David Garrard taking snaps for a Pro Bowl team.
So anyway, sportswritersandtalkers ripped the NFL mercilessly for the Pro Bowl move. And guess what? NFL smart. Everyone else stupid. Pro Bowl TV ratings shot up 39% over last year! We got just as silly and meaningless a game as we always get but a lot more people watched this year's silly meaninglessness. Clearly we're starved for some football, any football, during the two week interval before the Super Bowl. Now the Super Bowl players who missed out and all of the participating players who would have preferred the Hawaii Pro Bowl experience have a legitimate gripe here. The move deprived them of something. Jim Florio of ProFootballTalk.com explained the dilemma best on a local radio show I heard. To paraphrase him, he asked "what is the Pro Bowl supposed to be? A revenue enhancer for the league (ratings) or a reward for the players (Hawaii)?" That's it in a nutshell. Where does the Pro Bowl go from here? Well, when you have 32 rich greedy bastards running the show I'm gonna guess money wins out in the end. So long Hawaii.