Means nothing, is still football
The 2010 Pro Bowl kicks off in one hour, which is different from previous years, there is a whole lot to talk about: This is the first time ever that the all-star game has been held before the championship game; and to make matters even more different, this is the first time since 1979 that the game has not been held in Honolulu Hawaii, it is being held this year in the same town as the Super Bowl, in this year's case Miami.
1. Placing the game before the Super Bowl is a bad idea and should not be repeated. Having the Pro Bowl the week before the Super Bowl detracts from the Super Bowl build up, robs us of even optional participation by players from the Super Bowl teams and as such has created ill will among teams and fans.
This is supposed to be Media Week, the week before the Super Bowl when all the players line up in their big kiosks or on big stages and field ridiculous questions from domestic and foreign journalists. Beat reporters from the big outlets write their profile pieces, we learn all about the venue, serious football fans roll their eyes and fans of the teams in the Big Game get to WALLOW, for after next week, half the fans will be in the dumps.
If there were Media Week events, they were uslurped by the Pro Bowl hype, which is bigger this year because of the new placement and some of the stories around the players. The Pro Bowl is supposed to be a lesser draw than the Super Bowl and by placing it the week before the championship the lesser hyped game has stolen the thunder of the real deal, and there must be a league employed bean counter that has this figured out.
Further, the seemingly arbitrary rules about who can play and who has to be there have rankled owners and robbed fans of even the possibility that players from the Super Bowl teams may play.
The league mandated that players from the Super Bowl teams would not participate in the game in order to ensure no injuries, and to back up that requirement, granted players from the two final teams full wage shares, so those are the lucky guys, they get somewhere north of 22 thousand dollars just for being on a Super Bowl team.
But the league also mandated that Pro Bowl selections from both teams be in Miami for media events, which has at least one owner Bob Irsay of the Colts, pissed off and wondering why if they cannot play do they have to be there, losing at least two days of preparation for the Super Bowl? And as far as fans are concerned, many Super Bowl players are nicked up and choose not to play anyway, but at least that is their choice, not the league's.
Anecdotally though the total number of starting Pro Bowl players missing the game is not hugely larger than previous years, it looks that way.
2. Putting the Pro Bowl in the same city as the Super Bowl is a silly twofer and looks like an insider deal. The Pro Bowl is a huge event economically for the city of Honolulu, and it is that city and state's logical connection to the NFL, due to the location there is zero chance a team will ever play there permanently and keeping that tradition in place keeps those fans happy and guarantees everyone that wants can see at least one NFL game a year, considering that the Pro Bowl never looks at capacity. Taking it away hurts that city's NFL pride and hurts the businesses that have had thirty years to forecast a fat week in February.
The players and media also love the experience of going to Hawaii though that means nothing to me, it is already a privilege to play in, participate in or cover the NFL. Players that already make one hundred times or more the average salary of the US worker complaining about not getting a free weeklong trip to Hawaii is a really serious public relations warning light and the league should communicate this to its players.
As far as the game being in Miami, the same city as the Super Bowl, that seems like a boondoggle or a favor to someone, who had to suck whose dick to make that happen? It concentrates the economic activity and will have the effect of squeezing out the average consumer that would be looking to make a flight, hotel or car rental reservation for the week. If I could I would put my investigative reporter's cap on and check into the team owners and find out who has the Miami franchises that are most likely to benefit from this arrangement.
Another way you know this was all about Miami and not just about trying something new, next year's Pro Bowl location has not been announced. It may be in the same city... or it may not. It may be back in Hawaii... or not. Hell it could be in Sheboygan Wisconsin, home of the Howards Grove Senior High Tigers.
If I had to guess I would say the Pro Bowl will be back in Hawaii next year though there is no reason it could not be placed in any other city.
Curly R Pro Bowl policy prescription: In the first place holding the all-star game before the championship does not make sense for all the reasons described above, and the league must realize it has cost them money.
However, if the league insists on holding the all-star game before the championship, here is how it should be done:
1. Hold the Pro Bowl in a different city than that which hosts the Super Bowl. This should be a city that conceivably could have an NFL team within twenty years. My top five would be Los Angeles California, Portland Oregon, Las Vegas Nevada, Hampton Roads Virginia and Buffalo New York.
2. Prevent players from the Super Bowl teams from coming to the Pro Bowl city by mandating those players stay in the Super Bowl city and participate fully in Media Week.
3. Emphasize Super Bowl Media Week in the city hosting the Super Bowl from the Wednesday after the conference championship games, taking Pro Bowl Sunday off, and through the week of the Super Bowl.
This a Pro Bowl gameday open thread.
2010 Pro Bowl stylized logo from here.