NFL succeeds in making Pro Bowl sillier

by Gary Shelton on February 5, 2023

in general

Sunday, 4 a.m.

In a late development, the NFC All-Stars pulled off an upset Saturday evening with a victory in the Pie-Eating Contest at the Pro Bowl.

Defensive tackle Brian Burns of Carolina ate 24 pies, easily beating Aaron Donald of the Rams, who had 16.

Donald is favored to get his revenge in today's Pin-The-Tail-on-the-Donkey competition.

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Yeah, they did it. All of us who were certain the NFL's Pro Bowl game couldn't get any sillier than it was were wrong. A bad, laughable football game, it seems, has been replaced by a six-year-old kids' birthday party.

This is rich. We've had the water-balloon toss. We've had dodgeball. We've had a rousing game of Kick-Tac-Toe and something called "move the chains," where evidently, teams take turns measuring for first downs.

I don't know about you, but I can't wait for the grand Capture the Flag competition. Suddenly, pro football is summer camp.

In the immortal words of Raiders' running back Josh Johnson, "This s--- is stupid."

I've said it before. All-Star games work only when they can approximate the sport at hand. No one expects the NHL all-star game to resemble a Stanley Cup playoff, but at least no one is trying to dunk the clown. No one thinks the baseball all-star game is the World Series, but no one is playing the Longest Frisbee Toss.

Football hasn't worked as an all-star game for a lot of years. Understandably, no one wants to get hurt, so we would get to see wide receivers playing quarterback and running backs playing linebackers. It was a farce wrapped in a con and presenting itself as a punchline.

Instead, the league made it worse.

Oh, I understand the fascination with seeing the silly side of pro athletes. By and large, that's what's the broadcast booth is for.

But I'll be honest. I don't want to see Bruce Springsteen juggle. I don't want to see Robert De Niro get dunked with Gatorade. These are pros, the best in the world. If I see them, I want to see their gifts as they play their sport.

It's always going to be hard with football. So why not just name the team and introduce it at the Super Bowl? I'm not crazy about other all-star games, either, but at least in baseball the pitcher is trying to throw a strike and the batter is trying to hit it. In hockey, at least a skater is trying to get the puck into the net.

Look, I'm no grouch. I like skills' competitions -- as long as they're linked to the sport. I like touchdowns and home runs and power plays.

But don't take party games and tell me it's sport.

It isn't.

Now, if you want to add Roger Goodell to the dunk tank, you're talking.

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