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The Pro Bowl matters to NFL players, but it can still be better

Retired NFL lineman Geoff Schwartz doesn’t want to hear your complaints about the Pro Bowl. But he still has suggestions on how to improve it.

NFL: Pro Bowl-NFC vs AFC Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Pro Bowl weekend! That special time of the year when we claim there’s no football game on television, or nothing to gamble on, but then watch and gamble on the Pro Bowl. While it’s “fake” football, it can still mean very much to the players.

I’ve written about this topic before, but here are my thoughts on the game.

Please stop complaining about the Pro Bowl

Here’s the first rule of Pro Bowl watching: If you’re going to complain about the game on social media, don’t watch the game. If you think the game is moving too slow, or it’s not physical enough, or whatever, then don’t watch. No one is forcing it upon you, so I don’t want to hear the snark. Go spend time with your families or watch basketball.

With that all being said, yes the Pro Bowl isn’t played with the same emotion, physicality, or attention to detail as a regular season game. Want to know why? Because it’s an exhibition game between the “best” (more on this later) players in the league. It’s a showcase. It’s not a real game and therefore it won’t get real effort until the end.

I know the old guard will complain about the way they played in this game, but the stakes are different now. The money isn’t the same. I get why the players aren’t going hard.

The Pro Bowl still matters to the players

The Pro Bowl still matters because of status. When it’s time to dissect a certain career, we use on field production, stats, wins, and personal accolades to get the full scope of a career. Making a Pro Bowl is one of the big personal accolades we can lean on for nuance about a career.

Player X was great but only made three Pro Bowls. Player Y was equally as good but made eight Pro Bowls. Player Y is looked upon more favorably.

Some players also have incentives in their contracts if they make a Pro Bowl. So yes, the Pro Bowl still means something.

But there are ways the NFL can improve the Pro Bowl

However, I think there are adjustments that could be made to further the interest in the game. If you want players to try harder, you must increase the payout, especially for the winning team. If you gave the winning team $250,000 and the losing team $25,000, you’d get better effort from start to finish.

Lastly, the Pro Bowl needs to pick players in a way that reflects how the game is played now. Players and media members often feel disenfranchised by the process because players are chosen based on the old way football is played. Left and right tackles are equally as important now in the NFL. But mostly left tackles get voted into the Pro Bowl. Out of the three tackles voted in, one should always be a right tackle.

There should be a nickel cornerback position, as those players are on the field now for a majority of the game. Defensive linemen should be split up into 4-3 DTs and DEs, and 3-4 DEs. If we modernize the selection process, you’d get more buy-in for the game.

No matter what, try to enjoy the Pro Bowl this weekend and remember: no complaining.