Philadelphia, PA – Let's face it, All-Star games, no matter the sport, are tedious, often mind-numbing exhibitions.
Even when bumbling Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig comes along and tries to make the actual athletic contest mean something, it rarely has much of an affect. Unless, of course, your favorite baseball team finishes 10 games ahead of its competition and loses home-field advantage in the World Series because a reliever from a last place club didn't get the memo that said "Now it counts."
NFL commish Roger Goodell isn't quite as obtuse as Mr. Selig but he gave it the old college try on Wednesday, teaming with the NFLPA to gut what was already a loser of an idea.
Let's face it, the Pro Bowl is probably the worst of the major All-Star games simply because the game of football doesn't lend itself to a free-wheeling, laissez-faire atmosphere. The game is what it is, and many of us have politicked for its removal from the calendar.
As bad as it has become, though, the Pro Bowl is still a viable television vehicle and more often than not is the highest-rated All-Star contest.
Instead of building on that or just keeping the status quo, the National Football League decided to make sweeping changes to the Pro Bowl in hopes of increasing its popularity and, of course, creating more programming for the NFL Network.
No longer will the contest feature a matchup between the AFC and NFC. Instead, players will be assigned to teams through a draft. The two leading vote- getters will join two NFL.com fantasy football champions in building the squads. Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders will assist in the draft process.
"We were very receptive to the ideas that (NFLPA president) Domonique (Foxworth) and the players put forth," said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in a statement Wednesday. "From there, our office worked closely with him in developing the concept. The players made it clear that they wanted to continue the Pro Bowl and were committed to making it better than ever. We think these changes will enhance the game for both fans and players."
Is anyone excited by this?
Full disclosure rules force me to admit a deep hatred for fantasy football, an activity that's lone contribution to society is FX's brilliant sitcom "The League."
But even if you're a real life Rodney Ruxin or Dr. Andre Nowzick do you have any interest in watching two NFL.com fantasy football geeks live out their wet dream while Rich Eisen pretends it's relevant?
The madness doesn't stop there, however. In addition to the new team format, there are several other bastardizations to the game itself:
There will be no more kickoffs and the coin toss will determine which team is awarded possession first. The ball will then be placed on the 25-yard line after scoring plays. Possession will also change hands after each quarter and the clock will stop if the offense does not gain at least one yard following the two-minute mark of every quarter.
People always questioned whether the Pro Bowl was really football. We now know unequivocally, it's not.
In fact, all we need now is a carnival barker in between plays.
"Step right up and watch Adrian Peterson conquer the Bottle Ring Game."
"At the 20-yard line it's Aaron Rodgers and the Milk Can Toss."
Or how about watching J.J. Watt swing the mallet and ring the bell?
All of that sounds far more entertaining that what the NFL just did.
So, what's the answer?
Simple. Keep the honor, kill the game.