Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Modest Proposal, Part IV

After several months, I am returning to my quite immodest proposal concerning the National Football League. I have three previous posts on this topic. The first post proposed eliminating the two legacy conferences. The second part covered realigning the divisions and handling the relocation of teams. In the third part, I discussed changes to the postseason. Why am I returning to this topic now? At the end of the third post, I promised an "innovative approach to the Pro Bowl". Unfortunately, my basic approach was recently co-opted by the National Hockey League for its All-Star Game starting this season. Some people are already proposing this format be extended to other leagues including the NFL.

6. Pro Bowl

One problem with my proposal to eliminate the AFC and NFC is the makeup of the rosters for the Pro Bowl, the NFL's annual all-star game. Each NFL season, the best players from the two conferences are selected to play in the Pro Bowl. Without conferences, a new process would be needed for picking the players for the game. In the NHL's new process, two captains will first be selected, one for each team. Those two captains will then pick the other players for their team.

My thought for the Pro Bowl is very similar in that there would be a televised draft for the game. Instead of the rosters being selected by two players designated as captains, I would suggest that the coaches for the two teams do the drafting. I have three suggestions for which coaches should be selected. One suggestion would be to follow the current process of selecting the coaches from the teams that lose the two semifinal games, but that would not be possible due to timing. Coaches from teams that lost earlier in the postseason tournament would have to be used as was done this year. Another idea would be to use coaches from the college ranks, perhaps the two coaches from that season's BCS National Championship Game. This would be similar to coaches from the NFL coaching teams of college players in all-star games such as the Senior Bowl.

A third idea would be to use previous NFL head coaches that are currently not coaching in the league. Many former head coaches, including several Super Bowl winners, are currently working for television networks. Perhaps the two Pro Bowl coaches could be selected from the network that has the broadcast rights for that year's Pro Bowl and/or Super Bowl. This season, FOX Sports has the broadcast rights for both the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl XLV. FOX's lineup of former coaches include Super Bowl winners Brian Billick and Jimmy Johnson. CBS has the broadcast rights to the 2012 Pro Bowl, and the CBS roster includes Super Bowl winner Bill Cowher. NBC has the rights to Super Bowl XLVI, and the NBC lineup includes Super Bowl winner Tony Dungy. ESPN has previously broadcast Pro Bowls and has "Iron Mike" Ditka and Jon Gruden.

The highlight of this Pro Bowl proposal would not be the game itself but the selection of the team rosters. This televised event would be the ultimate fantasy draft. Of course, the NHL has this idea covered as well. The list of potential players for the Pro Bowl would be available a few weeks prior to the draft to give the coaches time to plan. Last year, the Pro Bowl was played the week prior to the Super Bowl and did not include players from the two Super Bowl teams. Assuming that schedule is to continue, the list of available players would not be finalized until after the two Super Bowl teams are decided. Therefore, the Pro Bowl team rosters could not be set until the conclusion of the two semifinal playoff games. As previously stated, it would impossible for the losing coaches from the semifinal games to participate since the draft would probably have to start immediately following those games. To give the two teams another day to prepare, I would also suggest moving the game to Monday night.

In the next post on my NFL proposal, I will discuss how my changes would affect the contracts the league has with the television networks.

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