January 26, 2014; Honolulu, HI, USA; Philadelphia Eagles teammates Nick Foles (left) and Evan Mathis pose after the 2014 Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium. Team Rice defeated Team Sanders 22-21. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Was The New Pro Bowl Structure Brilliant Or A Bust?

Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Nobody ever liked the Pro Bowl, it’s was just something you’ve always watched because you are a football fan.

For years, fans have been complaining about the game’s noncompetitive nature and the players sheer lack of effort. While players appear to be grateful of their selections, it became common knowledge that players didn’t actually enjoy playing in the game.

According to a recent ESPN article, , NFL commissioner Roger Goodell expressed his opinion on the poor-quality all star game.

“I really don’t think that was the kind of football that we want to be demonstrating  for our fans,” Goodell told ESPN.com after last years debacle. “And you heard it from the fans. The fans were actually booing in the stands.”

Goodell mentioned that the game needed a major makeover, and makeover the game they did. This year, the 2014 Pro Bowl ditched the traditional NFC vs. AFC match up and went with a fantasy-like draft, with teams picked by NFL legends Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders, which pinned teammates against one another for the first time in a live game.

One of the best plays of the game was one that is exactly what fans like myself love to see, an AFC to NFC connection – when Andrew Luck hit DeSean Jackson in the endzone for a 36 yard touchdown. For the first time in years, the Pro Bowl seemed to have a new spark that made fans want to watch.

My biggest complaint with the Pro Bowl has been the blatant lack of effort from defensive linemen who rarely exert energy to get to the quarterback, who until this year, were not allowed to hit the quarterback.  So that created a culture where offensive and defensive linemen simply stood up and give one another a hug while the quarterback threw a bomb to a streaking, half-guarded receiver down field.

This year, Team Rice and Team Sanders  put the fire back in these players eyes, by allowing defensive lineman to hit the quarterbacks. With both teams combining for nine sacks, it felt almost like a real football game. This is what the Pro Bowl was always supposed to be about–the best of the best competing in a competitive, yet entertaining game for a full 60 minutes.

Was the game still technically meaningless? Yeah sure, but I felt like I was watching a game with a majority of the NFL’s elite players,  who were actually trying to win, which I haven’t felt while watching the Pro Bowl in years.

Overall, I feel like the 2014 Pro Bowl draft was a brilliant change. Although it wasn’t flawless (a three hour draft special on TV was completely unnecessary), the game definitely had a new edge to it. Players were finally playing to their abilities and fans were happy to see the best and brightest stars put into never-before seen combinations. The Pro Bowl was competitive, exciting, and an all around fun game to watch for the first time in a while, and that is all any fan could ask for. Brett Favre being one of the captains might make next year’s Pro Bowl even more intriguing.

Tags: NFL Pro Bowl

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