The Pro Bowl is a laughingstock. The NFL has tried countless stunts to try and save whatever shred of integrity was left in the game to no avail. Moving it to before the Super Bowl, moving it away from Hawaii, live tweeting during the game, a basic abandonment of defensive principals, and most recently a fantasy draft for the game following in the NHL's footsteps.
Deion Sanders had captains J.J. Watt and Jamaal Charles with him while Jerry Rice was joined by his captains Drew Brees and Robert Quinn for the fantasy draft.
Even if you despise the extreme exhibition nature of the Pro Bowl game, the idea of a fantasy draft featuring the league’s best players is interesting. Which players would these current and former players view as most valuable? How would they construct a full roster? Which position groups would go first? Which player would be selected first overall?
Naturally, the Pro Bowl Draft delivered on none of those fronts, delivering the antithesis of a “made for television” broadcast and sucking the life out of an event that was already dead.
First, the NFL decided to drag the Pro Bowl Draft over two nights on NFL Network, an unconscionable decision that must have been an inside joke in the NFL offices. The NFL knows they can slap the NFL logo on a pig and watch it wallow in the mud for two hours and millions of people would watch. It's like the NFL is trying to make everything associated with the Pro Bowl as awful as possible just so they can brag about people still watching in droves. Dedicating one night of your life to a Pro Bowl Fantasy Draft makes you feel guilty enough for throwing your life away… but two? I don’t want to even think about going to that dark place.
Second, and perhaps most offensive was the structure of the draft itself. This wasn't a real fantasy draft! This was a remedial Fantasy Drafting for Dummies traveshamockery of a fantasy draft. Instead of building any possible intrigue whatsoever for the event and who the #1 overall pick would be, the NFL decided to draft by position group. All the defensive tackles had to be picked together, then the guards, then the centers, and so on.
Did the NFL not trust these guys to fill out a roster with a set number of players at each position over the course of a real draft? How many millions and millions of knuckleheads in fantasy leagues or video game franchise mode junkies can competently make picks in a fantasy draft? Even worse, the NFL is saving all the skill position groups for night two and went through positions like fullback, center, defensive tackle, and long snapper on night one.
I can only imagine the number of people that tuned out after they realized the “drama” and “intrigue” for the evening revolved around the choice of Marcell Dareus vs Kyle Williams.
And if the structure wasn’t bad enough, the execution was even worse. Chris Rose “moderated” the draft which consisted of cutting to graphics, getting every cliche imaginable out of the players on set, and being Ed McMahon to Deion Sanders’ Johnny Carson. Not that Deion would make it all about himself or anything.
When it came time to deliver the picks, the teams either whispered to one another neglecting the microphones in front of them or tried to fill 30 seconds of empty airtime until they delivered their pick. Jerry Rice noted when selecting Mike Tolbert as his fullback, “We know how important the fullback is to this team.”
When coaches Chuck Pagano of the Colts and Ron Rivera of the Panthers were brought on for the cute stunt of selecting one another's long snappers, Rose asked Pagano how much fun it would be if Andrew Luck was playing for the other team for the game.
Pagano gave the hard sell for the Pro Bowl, saying, "I don't know, we'll have to wait and see."
The Pro Bowl! It’s faaaaaaaantastic!!!
The second night of the Pro Bowl Draft on NFL Network is three hours long. God speed to anyone who actually decides to tune in again after the non-stop thrill ride that was night one.