Via Vanessa Bryant.
This is possibly one of the slowest weeks in NFL news on the calendar… for now.
Rumors heated back up today about the NFL Draft being moved to the middle of May in 2014 as a temporary trial date with an eye towards negotiating with the NFLPA to move the start of the season — read: free agency and trading — before the combine in 2015 in an effort to extend fan interest through the spring. This also has a small amount to do with Easter falling on the traditional Draft weekend in April next year and Radio City Music Hall already being booked for the Rockettes which I didn’t even know was still a thing. (The Rockettes, not Easter.)
Since this is also the week of the annual spring owners meeting, it means that it’s also time for the annual rendering of garments over the state of the Pro Bowl. Ratings for the Pro Bowl remain ahead of those for the World Series , the players appeared to care more this year than last year, we live-blogged it and Hawaii gets to say they have more professional football games than Los Angeles. ESPN’s John Clayton reports that at this year’s spring meeting, owners will consider changing the format completely and instead of having it be NFC versus AFC, two team captains would be allowed to pick their teams from the 88 Pro Bowlers.
(Oof, and we think being picked last in gym class is rough. Imagine the grief for being picked last in the Pro Bowl, even with the bonus. Maybe along with the additional bonuses for winning per quarter which is also being considered, Mr. Pro Bowl Irrelevant should get a free night at Shakey’s with his friends to lift his spirits.)
What if there is a simpler solution everyone is overlooking? What if the NFL combined the Pro Bowl and the Draft into one big super week?
One of the biggest complaints about the Pro Bowl now that it’s held the weekend before the Super Bowl is that we’re really not seeing the best of the best, since many of those players are unavailable due to Super Bowl preparation. You also have many players opting out due to injuries and plain old sore bodies after a very long season. And yes, some of those “injuries” are players opting out after losing the week before in the conference championships who just want to go home and lick their wounds.
Now imagine you hold the Pro Bowl in March, everyone has had time to get some distance from the previous season, rest and look forward to going to Hawaii. Have the Pro Bowl on Wednesday during the day in Hawaii so it can play in prime time on the mainland. Fly out the top, oh, say two hundred draft prospects. Maybe even three hundred, assuming Goodell doesn’t want to be outdone by Oprah flying her staff out to Hawaii for vacations. More will probably be flown out on their agent’s dime for some last second glad-handling. Have them there watching the game in the stands, getting to meet the current Pro Bowlers, hearing life lessons about what it took from them to go from draft day to this moment. It would make for great television, a passing of the baton moment that plays well with sentimental football fans.
Then start the first round of the draft the next afternoon in Hawaii, again which is prime time on the mainland, and have all the Pro Bowlers in the theater cheering on the players being drafted by their team. A welcoming into a club that is more than just a jersey and an old guy wearing a suit, teammates welcoming each other into the fraternity of professional football players from the get go. I’m just getting teary-eyed thinking about how amazingly well that moment would play for the cameras. Troy Polamalu hugging Jarvis Jones as he walked off the stage and jokingly tugging at Jarvis’s new hat. Peyton Manning firmly shaking Sylvester Williams’s hand and whispering into his ear, “You’re mine now.” Just beautiful.
(Of course the grizzly contract talks take place off-screen and we never think about that part and I quite haven’t figured out how free agency works here. Stop ruining my fun idea.)
Everyone would watch the Pro Bowl because they’d see more of the players they wanted to see in the first place and to get a view of their team’s potential players, everyone would watch the draft for the drama.
And the the mini pony? Well, who doesn’t love mini ponies. Invite them for the halftime show.
I guess Leinart can come too.
(H/T to Supersloth for the Leinart photo.)