Remember the days when players were actually excited to be honored with a Pro Bowl invitation and the game was actually the best of the best performing? Well, 2016's Pro Bowl appears to be the exact opposite of that. This year's Pro Bowl is the most declined invitation in the history of the NFL's all-star game.
The biggest reason for this trend of declining the Pro Bowl invitation is likely that it has been moved up two weeks to be played the week before the Super Bowl instead of the week afterwards. Many times the best players in the league are on playoff teams and so it increases the chances that players are simply not healthy enough yet after their season only just ended to be playing in an optional all-star game.
Another issue with the earlier game is that players on the two Super Bowl teams are ineligible to play because they have bigger things to be concerned about, like winning an NFL Championship. Again, the two Super Bowl teams are often filled with Pro Bowl players that then must be replaced for the actual game. That has definitely been a factor to this record for most replacement players in the Pro Bowl as well.
It makes sense that the NFL plays the Pro Bowl during this week off before the Super Bowl because fans are much more likely to watch it due to their anticipation of the upcoming Big Game. In previous years there were less people watching after the Super Bowl because the season was already over and they had already started to move on from NFL football until next season.
However, despite the increase in audience it isn't going to pay off if the best of the best keep declining their invitations to play in it. People watch all-star games to see the absolute best play but with so many declines this year that is not going to be the case. It isn't as much of an all-star game as it is a "mostly-star-game" now a days.
This is an issue that will have to be fixed somehow otherwise the Pro Bowl might end up going the way of the dinosaurs, never to be seen again and only spoken about in the past tense. If the best players are not going to be playing in it then there really is no point in having it.
Sure, I'm glad that Derek Carr, Latavius Murray and Amari Cooper get to play in the game as alternatives so I will watch this year but if it wasn't for that I would have no interest in it all. I am sure I am not the only fan that feels that way either, which is a big problem for the NFL.
2016 NFL Pro Bowl: The most declined invitation in history - NFL Nation- ESPN
With more players than ever declining to go to the Pro Bowl, should the NFL make it something other than an all-star game?
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