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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

FINK: The NFL should cancel the Pro Bowl

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(Photo courtesy of NFL.)

What the flag? I’ve been waiting to watch the Pro Bowl, the annual All-Star game held by the National Football League featuring the league’s star players, and when I turned it on, I laughed when I saw it was a flag football game. 

I wanted to see a game where the crowd goes wild when they hear helmets smashing into pads executing the plays that have been carefully designed to outplay the opponent. This is football at its very core and while there is always the risk of injury to players, fans everywhere come alive every game-day during both the regular season and playoffs. 

I am sure none of these players have played flag football since elementary school or maybe middle school gym class. These are world-class athletes who have trained for decades in how to be faster, stronger and more competitive. Now, they are being told to turn the aggressiveness off to play it safe which is being looked at as a good thing due to all the injuries that occur. However, the players still need to give the fans something to cheer for which is the full uniform and full contact aspect. 

Football has been a rough tackle sport since it began over 100 years ago. While players have better protection with state of the art helmets, trainers and medical personnel, it always will be a tackle sport. Even with the life threatening injury to the Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin and the history the NFL made by stopping that game, there was no discussion of canceling any other football games, just tackle rule changes.  

The future of football is changing, as safety continues to play a factor in the way the game is played which will help allow for full padded football to be played.

Rule changes that have been made over the past few years have tried to lessen the impact of vicious hits. There have been advances in helmets including the goofy looking “marshmallow padding” on the outside of the helmet that was used in the early preseason games and training camp. Concussions are a serious issue in the game and players are being watched constantly after taking a hit to make sure they are okay. There is clearly an effort afoot to make the game safer for the players while delivering the type of football that fans want to see. 

In the last few years, the NFL has watered down the Pro Bowl to safeguard the players and eliminate injuries in a rather meaningless game as players don’t want to risk hurting.

This year the NFL attempted to make it safer and more competitive but in the form of flag football, which not only upset fans but also players. Raiders running back Josh Jacobs voiced his dismay of the Pro Bowl saying “It was stupid.” Jacobs’ comment proves fans are not the only ones wanting to stick with the traditional playing style of the game. 

In watching the game on Sunday, the most entertaining part was when Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey got called for a personal foul when he had a rough hit on Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill. This was the most traditional football that was seen at the Pro Bowl.

The lone upside to the Pro Bowl this year came in the inaugural skills challenges. Such challenges included  the gridiron gauntlet, best catch, kick tac toe and then non football challenges including dodgeball.

These competitions actually looked like the players were having fun and it was a safe way to get out there with other great players. This is a great way to get fans involved and see what individual players can do outside of the game itself however, this is drifting too far away from the sport that is known to be violent.

The Pro Bowl and the competitive challenges were a fun diversion in a weekend without traditional football, but make no mistake: This is not the future of football.

The article was written by Catherine Fink. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @CatherineFinkMU.

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