Last week, we passed an important milestone in the NFL season: The Pro Bowl rosters were announced. This is an important moment because it's the last time anyone will give a shit about the Pro Bowl.
The Pro Bowl is an utter joke. It's slightly more physical than flag football, with dumbed-down versions of professional football's actual rules. No blitzing, no attempting to block kicks, and no veteran players, who are busy stubbing their toes and getting doctor's notes to use as an excuse for declining an invitation to professional sports' most worthless event. They've changed the date and location this year, but no one will care anyway. Professional cycling* gets higher ratings.
* - I'm not even talking about the Tour de France, which deserves its own category. I'm talking about off-brand, no-name cycling competitions. Hell, we could create one: The 2010 Tour de Rubie will take place in Milwaukee, on a meandering, made-at-the-last-minute course marked with discarded Bold Party Chex Mix Bags and ribbon made from a shredded Jeronne Maymon jersey. We'll televise it (tape-delayed, of course) on that channel where Time Warner shows awful local sports programming. The ratings will still crush the Pro Bowl.
There's nothing worth watching about the Pro Bowl. There's nothing on the line, no one playing all out and no one even pretending NFL caliber football is being played. But I can fix it. I'd like to propose a new game to replace the Pro Bowl. And I promise, it'll be must-see TV.
We'll call it the Bench Bowl. It'll still be NFC v. AFC, but the rosters will be selected by a committee of executives and assistant coaches based on the following premise: Any player that started less than four games for his team over the course of the season is eligible.
The Pro Bowl sucks because the players have next to nothing on the line and no one cares enough to go all out or hit someone. The Bench Bowl would be awesome for exactly the opposite reason: It'd be two rosters made up of 60 guys who have something to prove. They didn't get a shot to demonstrate their ability during the season, so they're going to go out and play their asses off to show they deserve a shot next season. You won't see a wide receiver jogging out a route or a linebacker settling for stopping forward progress in this game. It might be the most all-out, hard-hitting game you watch all season.
Screw the Pro Bowl and its elite players playing half-assed football. Lets replace it with a game with guys who want to prove they belong, in what might be their only shot to perform on a national stage. I'd watch it. I bet you would too.