The NFL Pro Bowl is a time of the year where the best players in the league play against one another for what should be considered a dream matchup. It has traditionally pitted the best of the AFC against the best of the NFC. While this is an excellent idea, historically players have been more relaxed at this event due to it not counting for anything. Due to this fact, public interest has waned considerably over the years and the NFL has been working feverishly to fix the lack of interest and competition. Most recently they tried to have former NFL legends such as Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders draft players selected for the Pro Bowl. This meant mixed teams of both NFC and AFC participants. While the results were satisfying for the three years of the experiment, the NFL decided to revert back to the original AFC versus NFC format starting with the 2017 Pro Bowl. This will surely not work in the long run as the original format clearly did not work before the experiment. There needs to be a permanent solution and that solution might lie within the annals of Major League Baseball.
The MLB All-Star Game has historically not given a particular incentive to the winning team until 2002. Between then and 2016, the winner of the All Star Game was given the honor of home field advantage for the World Series. During that period the game was much more competitive compared to the Pro Bowl. What if the NFL adopted this idea? This article will be covering two scenarios. The first, home jersey advantage for that season’s Super Bowl. The second, home jersey advantage for the following season’s Super Bowl. It is time the NFL makes a permanent change to the Pro Bowl and start giving their players real incentive for winning the game.
This will take much more strategy but it can work. The first order of business is to convince the AFC and NFC teams of the importance of representing their conference in home jerseys in the Super Bowl. This undoubtedly will require a great deal of unselfishness on the player’s part. This will also require the NFL marketing and sales arm to comply. If the NFL follows this blue print, this idea can work.
Rivalry: The MLB All-Star Game is a competition between two leagues with different rules. It is truly a battle of ideals on how to play the game. While the NFL is two separate conferences with the same rules. Let’s not forget how the modern NFL was formed. The AFC was founded originally as the American Football League and competed against the established NFL for popularity. It was only after six years that the Super Bowl was formed and the modern day AFC and NFC were established under the NFL shield. While players generally don’t think too much about this, it could help in fueling the fire for home jersey advantage in the Super Bowl. The players could also be convinced that even though they will not be in the Super Bowl, they can at least contribute in some small way to the game. This will take a tremendous amount of unselfishness but it can be done. The NFL has been operating as a brotherhood for decades so it should not be too difficult to convince players to win the Pro Bowl for their fellow conference brethren.
Sales: Whenever a team reaches the Super Bowl there are fans who buy their team’s jersey with a commemorative Super Bowl patch attached. This could get tricky if the NFL decided to adopt this idea for that current Super Bowl. What they could do is cut in half the shipping charges for the two-day rush. They could possibly cut it out entirely. The Pro Bowl is only a week before the Super Bowl and people will want to get their jerseys soon. If the NFL decided to go this route, sales could increase due to decreased cost.
This idea is more capable of happening as players can directly affect their chances of playing in their home jerseys. While players are thinking about the offseason and possibly where they will play the following season, they will be able to fight for the chance to play in home jerseys in the Super Bowl the following season. Some players will be on championship-caliber teams which should give them that much more incentive to compete for this opportunity. For this to work there needs to be enough players on championship-level teams who care about what jersey they wear in the Super Bowl. Some may even be superstitious.
Pride: Some players have an immense pride in their home colors and would love nothing more than to wear those colors in the Super Bowl. When they play in the Pro Bowl for the opportunity of this honor, they will be focused on a goal which will not be realized until the following year. They may never realize this goal if they just completed their contract. They could be shipped off to another organization meaning all of their dedication in the Pro Bowl was for nothing. A lot will be on their minds during the Pro Bowl. Pride can conquer all of those distractions. If they truly want to continue to play for their current team then they will fight for the honor of wearing their home jersey in the Super Bowl. The Pro Bowl will become more competitive just on that notion alone.
Superstition: A large number of players are superstitious. One of these superstitions is the outcome of the Super Bowl resides in what color jersey you wear. The past 12 out of 13 Super Bowl winners wore white jerseys. The lone home jersey belonged to the 2010 Green Bay Packers. The home jersey advantage does not mean they have to wear the home jersey. It gives the team the right to chose what color jersey they want to wear. In fact, the New England Patriots have just announced their intentions of wearing white jerseys in the Super Bowl despite being the “home” team. While they will probably never admit it, surely they are at least a little superstitious.
While these suggestions may seem outlandish, they are not impossible. If the NFL were to adopt this for the current season, the most important aspect they must address is the player’s pride in their conference. This will take a great deal of unselfishness on the player’s part. They will be playing for their conference brethren, not themselves. If the NFL were to adopt this for the following year they would not need to do much. The players would be playing for themselves and their teammates. They would sense the opportunity to make a small difference the following year. Players who are on championship-level teams will almost certainly set the tone. The Pro Bowl will be more competitive if the NFL adopts either of these ideas. Either the players will be playing for their brethren or for themselves. The Pro Bowl will have much more meaning as it can make a small difference in the Super Bowl.