The Pro Bowl is the all star game for professional football. This year, the National Football Conference won in pretty convincing fashion. This is interesting since they were missing more of their selected players than the American Football Conference. This year they are back in Hawaii rather than in the Super Bowl venue, but again this year, the game is between the championship games and the Super Bowl. The commissioner made a not so veiled threat the if the game was not played up to NFL standards, the game would be deleted from the schedule. This was due to the lack luster effort the last two years (55-41 and 59-41).

The change in location in 2010 (2009 season) to the Super Bowl venue and the move to before the Super Bowl were both moves by the commissioner to make it a better game. Let’s face it, the game has suffered from both of these moves. The game is supposed to be a reward for players who are recognized for their performance and it is a reward for fans to see their players one last time this season. By moving the venue, the reward for the players was reduced. By moving the date, the reward for the fans has been removed.

Here are the negatives; players from the Super Bowl teams are not there. Fans of the non-Super Bowl teams really have nothing left after this week end. Sure, true football fans will watch the Super Bowl, along with many people who only tune in for the final game, but there is really nothing for most of the fans.

The other change that the commissioner made to the Pro Bowl was to try to give it meaning. The conference that wins is considered the home team in the Super Bowl the next year. This does not actually mean much, but it does define who chooses what uniforms they wear (in general home is dark and away is light) and who calls the coin toss. There is no advantage statistically for home team or coin toss since it is played on a neutral field. This is still the most useful change the commissioner made and the only one I don’t think should be reversed.

I do not know what criteria the commissioner will use to determine the continuance of the Pro Bowl in the future. I would like to think that he realizes just how important this game is to players and fans, even if it is not the hard fought battle of a regular season game. Congratulations to all of the players selected, especially those who were enjoying their first times. Here is hoping that we get to see this celebration for years to come.

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Martin writes about writing in his weekly column Ramblings from Martin.

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