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Monday, January 30, 2012
Brainstorming Pro Bowl alternatives

By Kevin Seifert

How low-impact was the 2012 Pro Bowl? Chicago Bears tailback Matt Forte made the unusual decision to play despite a knee injury that sidelined him for the Bears' final four regular-season games, and you heard almost no concerns voiced about possible re-injury.

No, Sunday night's Pro Bowl was an unfortunate mix of half-speed football and silly gimmicks. The television at NFC North blog headquarters quickly moved to red carpet coverage for the SAG Awards, an event that offered better depth and more intriguing storylines than anything I saw from Honolulu. (Brad Pitt's cane is no more!)

I've never hidden my disdain for the Pro Bowl, but I also know it's easy to complain about something without proposing an improvement. The nature of football makes it difficult to raise the relevance of the Pro Bowl, and there are no obvious answers for making it more competitive.

So now it's your turn to brainstorm. How can the NFL turn a clunker of an event into something worthwhile? Feel free to post your suggestions below. I'll start with mine, which is actually stolen from a colleague and a reader.

AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky has been advocating for a skills competition to replace the game, and to that I'll to add a suggestion submitted through the mailbag by Patty of Spooner, Wis.: "How about Pro Bowl players get a voucher from the NFL for, let's say $50,000, which is about what they get to go to Hawaii, and give to their favorite charity. And then have them compete to see who can raise the most money for that charity. We already know what they can do playing real football. Let's see what they can do as a person, trying to help others that haven't been as lucky as they are to play a game for their job in life."

Some thoughts and complications on this idea: