Can we fix the Pro Bowl?

Why don’t I care about the Pro Bowl?

This may be the million-dollar question. The Pro Bowl is the NFL equivalent of the All-Star Game, but it fails compared to the MLB and the NBA ones.

Now, what is the reason for this? It can’t be because baseball and basketball are better than football; now that’s just ludicrous.

Maybe it’s the lack of value in the game. The MLB All Star Game actually matters. The winning division gets home field advantage in the World Series.

This could be a great thing for the NFL to adopt, but then they would have to have the Pro Bowl during the season.

The recent reformatting of the Pro Bowl has only made it worse. Firstly, they moved it to be before the Super Bowl, which excluded some of the best players each year. I mean, that’s obvious, they made it to the Super Bowl after all.

Secondly, it is no longer NFC versus AFC. This has really led to the demise of the Pro Bowl, not that it was ever great, but it was better than this. This year, for example, it was Team Irvin versus Team Carter. Each coach “drafted” players that were selected to the Pro Bowl by voting.

Now let’s be frank, this is just unnecessary. They are trying to model a pickup game of football. Why are you ruining something that could honestly be so great?

Think about it. A game where Aaron Rodgers is throwing to Odell Beckham Jr. Does that sound awesome or does that sound awesome?

On paper, it should be. In reality, it is similar to watching paint dry.

So, why can’t we have the Pro Bowl midseason like the NBA and MLB do?

Maybe the reason the NFL is opposed to this is because of the physicality of the sport.

However, the NFL plays the fewest games per season compared to these sports. Yes, I understand football is literally running into someone and getting hit. But playing 82 basketball games a season probably isn’t too easy either.

Regardless of the levels of physicality, you play any sport at a professional level that often, your body will feel it.

I’m not asking for the NFL to play 50 games. I’m asking for one more game halfway through the season, I’m asking for 17 games. Give these guys an All Star break.

There won’t be any defense until the fourth quarter. It will just be exciting and electrifying plays for the fans. That’s all they really want.

Does anyone watch the NBA All-Star Game for a good matchup? No. We watch it to see a dream team that will never exist elsewhere. We watch it to see Chris Paul lob the ball to James Harden. We watch it to see LeBron throw the ball to the perimeter for Carmelo to shoot a three.

Why can’t we have this in football?

I want to live in a world where I can see Adrian Peterson and LeSean McCoy in the backfield together for one game a year.

Am I really asking for that much? No, no I am not.

So please, give me an NFL All-Star Game that everyone will watch.

Millions tune in to watch the NBA All Star Weekend. Millions tune in to watch the MLB All Star Game. Let’s add the NFL to that list.

There won’t be a dunk contest, but there could be a 40-yard dash contest, a one-handed catch contest, and a throwing contest.

Basically, it could be a casual combine. I mean, why not?

Do it for the fans. Bring the Pro Bowl back to life. Honestly, the NFL could use all the good press it can get right now.


For the better part of nine weeks, Roger Clemens was on the hook for what would have been the biggest loss of his career.

In the ongoing war that MLB and Congress have decided to wage against performance-enhancing drugs, Clemens was the most recent player to have his association with PEDs called into question. Clemens had become a veritable scapegoat that for all intents and purposes, was meant to shoulder the blame for years of rampant drug use in MLB by a myriad of players not named Clemens.

But like he had done so many times before in his storied 24-year MLB career, he came away unscathed and his team walked away with a win. Only this time Clemens, playing for himself and family, won back his reputation and perhaps a future induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Monday evening Clemens was acquitted on all six counts of lying to Congress about his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs. The verdict brings to an end another tax dollar-draining investigation of performance-enhancing drugs in sport, and at its conclusion we’re left wondering what the hell a PED even is.

The fact is, Congress and MLB don’t know either.

OK, that’s not entirely true. They have a general idea about what should and shouldn’t be put into an athlete’s body so as to not create an unfair advantage, but they’re doing a terrible job of enforcing the ban on PEDs.

To say this is just a problem that exists solely in MLB would be naive, if not completely false.

As long as one player a year in any sport is suspended for using PEDs, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of others doing the exact same thing. The only difference is they’re either masking the drugs incredibly well or they are taking something that is yet to show up on mandatory, albeit random drug tests.

The first thing that comes to mind when PEDs are mentioned are steroids, but they only constitute a small percentage of the drugs athletes around the world use to get a leg, or arm, up on their competition.

Drugs like stimulants, painkillers, sedatives and diuretics are used, and may even pose a bigger threat to the athletes that use them. While steroids facilitate faster muscle growth and decrease healing time between injuries, painkillers can increase an athlete’s pain threshold beyond normal limits and stimulants can drastically improve a player’s focus and intensity.

Used in moderation, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with athlete’s taking legal painkillers to ease back pain or any other nagging injury. It’s when these drugs are abused that they become performance-enhancers.

The more we delve into the “benefits” athlete’s receive from taking these drugs, the line between what is serving as a performance-enhancer and what is being used as part of a normal supplemental regimen begins to blur.

Clemens had already admitted to using the anti-inflammatory drug Vioxx before it was taken off the market in 2004 amid concerns that it may cause adverse cardiovascular effects in long-term users. Like any other drug on the market, Vioxx was approved by the FDA, but its long-term effects had not yet been documented.

This raises the question of what PEDs do to an athlete’s body over time. Will there be a population of aging, once-great athletes that can’t walk by the age of 70 due to the harming effects these drugs have on one’s body? The reality is that no one knows.

But various studies have shown them to have significant degenerative effects on an athlete’s body and mind. Cases of hypertension, immune system and liver damage and increased cholesterol levels have all been linked to prolonged abuse of PEDs by athletes.

There’s no easy way to enforce an outright ban against any and all drugs in sports. Athletes, like normal people, have issues with their bodies that may require clinical aid, and what’s legal to ingest or inject one day could be deemed illegal the next.

Looking ahead, it may be best to approach this whole situation with a more laissez-faire attitude.

Players within MLB, the NFL or any other major sporting body have already reached the pinnacle of their respective sports, so why not let them do what they want to their bodies? And isn’t the entire point of sports to provide entertainment to the masses? If entertainment is what we want, then why not have the biggest, baddest and possibly unhealthiest athletes performing to the absolute fullest of their potential?

These aren’t questions easily answered, but they do provide us with the opportunity to discuss these issues and find ways to promote healthier lifestyles in all levels of sport.

We may never know exactly what drugs Clemens took, if any, or how his ex-trainer Brian McNamee plays into the case, but if Clemens is as innocent as he claims, it could be in his best interest to speak out against drug use in sports and take action to abolish it all together.

If successful, it could be his crowning achievement, and would dispel any rumors of him not making it to Cooperstown with the rest of baseball’s all-time greats.