The Super Bowl is set.
With the Tom-Brady-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers taking on the reigning champ Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes, we’re in for one of the most exhilarating finales to arguably the weirdest NFL season in history.

With the big game requiring so much preparation, though, the two teams get an extra week off to go through media days, rest, and gameplan for the biggest game of the year.


So, where does that leave us next weekend?

Oh yeah. The Pro Bowl.


The Pro Bowl is the most fraudulent, waste of time of a football honor there is, and the players know it, too. They had to change it from an actual game to a skills contest when players were either getting injured or just openly jogging on the field to make their appearance and go home. So many players would opt out of their selection that Mitch Trubisky, yes, Mitch Trubisky, even made the roster as a replacement.

This year, however, due to COVID safety, the league has opted for a “Pro Bowl Celebration” where they just televise players playing Madden against each other for a week.

Yawn.

Look, the MLB tried to do this when the season was put on hold with a virtual MLB: The Show tournament bracket, and I can’t name a single person who watched it. There are so many people who play video games and stream already that this doesn’t feel like an event at all.

Do you honestly think Aaron Donald cares if DK Metcalf can lay the smackdown on him in a virtual game? Not a chance, friend.

Because the game of football is so dangerous as is, there’s no reason to play an actual game with no stakes, but we can at least make it a little more entertaining than having the players play a video game or play dodgeball in that skills competition. The NFL needs to make it like the NBA and let the players expose their true personalities and quirks when they’re not covered by a helmet and pads in a game with 22 people on the field at once.


Here are some alternative Pro Bowl activities that would grow the game to a wider audience.*


*All of these suggestions are safe and socially-distant to follow the COVID protocols; I’d love to see Khalil Mack wrestle Joey Bosa on TV just as much as you, but that’s an unrealistic dream.


Event 1: An O-Line vs D-Line Reality Cooking Show, Chopped Style

During the pandemic, we saw many athletes on social media pick up grilling and cooking as a hobby while at home, most notably the big fellas of the sport who have to work to keep on their weight at their position. Wouldn’t it be awesome to see their talents on display with judges in a rivalry of the trenches?

We could see Ryan Jenson, a lineman for the Buccaneers, grill a ribeye with sides using obscure ingredients that go up against TJ Watt trying to make a palatable sandwich and have a bracket-style tournament. NFL coaches like Mike Tomlin, Jon Gruden, or Bruce Arians could be the taste-testing judge panel. “This bread is more burnt than my defensive backs trying to cover Tyreek Hill!” says Jon Gruden. What a delight that would be.

Event 2: Aaron Rodgers-Hosted Jeopardy!

The likely-MVP is set to be a guest host of his favorite game show in wake of the late great Alex Trebek’s passing in November. Rodgers is a Jeopardy! Fanatic and has previously appeared on the show.

With his witty quips he’s sure to be an incredible host, so why not have him bust the chops of some of his NFL peers? It would be a hit seeing these gladiators of men prove their knowledge as Aaron teases them. Athletes are smart too, people!

Photo: Matt Schneidman/theathletic.com

Event 3: Coaching Tree Family Feud

The great coaches with extensive knowledge and experience tend to groom their proteges for head coaching gigs when they leave the nest, thus creating coaching trees of disciples. Rams’ coach Sean McVay is well on his way with seemingly everyone who has had a cup of coffee with him before getting hired, but the two most obvious ones are the Andy Reid coaching tree (John Harbaugh, Ron Rivera, Sean McDermott, Matt Nagy, etc.) and the Bill Belichick coaching tree (Nick Saban, Mike Vrabel, Joe Judge, Brian Flores, etc.).

Let’s put the Reid Family against the Belichick family! You could even have Aqib Talib, former defensive back under Belichick and now a VERY funny guest broadcaster on Fox, play the role of Steve Harvey. Although the way Bill handles his press conferences, I have a feeling he would struggle in the fast money round.

Event 4: Receiver vs Defensive Back Roast Battle

This might have to be put on HBO for mature audiences only, but let’s be real here: all of the vintage NFL Films or mic’d up segments feature the best trash talk between these position groups. It is a sport within a sport to get into the head and humiliate the other guy with wit. With the rise in roasts on comedy shows and Verzuz rap battles becoming a phenomenon during the pandemic, it would be the perfect platform to figure out who the best of the best is at being a mental pest. Richard Sherman or Jalen Ramsey might make a grown football player cry on national television if you gave them the mic.

We just recently saw the NFL broadcast a game on Nickelodeon, and it was a massive success with kids! Exposing the talents and capabilities of the players in activities that are much more entertaining than televising something as commonplace now as gaming would diversify the viewership even more.


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