Normally, I couldn’t care less about the NFL’s Pro Bowl festivities. It’s high scoring, no one really gives a crap, and they have to put in little gimmicks to try and keep the audience involved.
These gimmicks can run from fantasy drafts by the likes of Jerry Rice and Michael Irvin, to playing Odell Beckham Jr. at safety, to letting Jeff Saturday switch teams to have one more snap with Peyton Manning, and everything in between.
And I feel like the NFL sees this. They needed to make a change to help draw people in, and the return of the Pro Bowl Skills competition helped with that.
The Skills Competitions consisted of five separate competitions:
- Best Hands
- Power Relay Challenge
- Drone Drop
- Precision Passing
Granted, there were some bumpy patches throughout; but anything new will do that.
For instance, the Power Relay was riddled with controversy, when the sled fell off the track during the NFC’s run, making it impossible to move. This resulted in a mulligan, that the NFC took advantage, and ended up winning the event.
Now I know, really strong football players bashing into objects like that could cause them to break. But the fact no one checked that before the start of the NFC’s run is plain irresponsible, and needs to be addressed.
The Drone Drop was also a bit of a swing and a miss. Instead of using a drone, they should have implemented punters into the mix as well.
One idea could be setting up rings on the field worth different amounts of points. Then, place a punt returner on the other side of the rings. Every time a punt goes through a ring, that conference receives points. Then, when the returner catches it, that conference receives a half of a point.
On the final kick, the returner has to run it back to the opposite endzone as quick as possible. The returner with the quickest time gets their conference an extra two points.
But above all, the Dodgeball Game was without a doubt the most highly anticipated competition.
At first, many people believed that this would be just another crazy gimmick to try and sell tickets, and to have people tune in. But to be honest, it was actually done well, and was very entertaining. Especially when TY Hilton was the only one left for the AFC, and almost made a comeback for his squad by himself.
Overall, the Skills Showdown was exactly what Pro Bowl weekend needed. It was WAY more competitive than many of the Pro Bowls from the previous years. As long as the NFL continues to improve and implement new challenges every few years, and tinker with the mechanics of the existing challenges; they’ll have a proven concept that can last for years to come.