The start of the NFL preseason is almost underway, and about this time evey year, I see it a missed opportunity for the league, which is known for doing everything possible in order to make a few extra (million) bucks.
If I worked in the NFL’s front office, I would suggest they move the Pro Bowl to replace the Hall of Fame game.  People can’t wait for football by the time August comes around, and what better way to kick off the preseason then having all the best players in the world on nation television?  Fans would get to see all their favorite players from last season in one place, and players that retired in the off season can partake in one last game.
When you put the Pro Bowl one week before or after the Super Bowl, people have already used up all their energy on the season, and are done with the sport. All they can think about is the Super Bowl, and the rest is just a hassle.  Nobody wants to see the players that let them down all season  for one last time, they want the main event.
Pushing that game to the front of the NFL year would be working with the hype that builds throughout the summer.  Plus, their current first game, the Hall Of Fame Game, is a joke.  Besides the obvious observation that nobody even remembers that the game exist until they see the meaningless highlights on Sports Center, the league never seems to have any reason as to why those two team in particular are playing one another. There’s no tradition involved or rivalry.  Just two different teams every year, who are forced to open training camp one week early.
Instead, the NFL should air a game with actual future hall of famers involved for hall of fame weekend.  The Pro Bowl is the perfect fit.
Another positive is that by moving the game, the previous season’s Super Bowl contenders can compete.  They’re probably the best players in the league, and it’s ridiculous to think an all-star game wouldn’t feature the world champions or runner-ups. But that’s what the league has been settling for the past few years.
The one counter to my argument could be that star players will be exposed to injuries, and that could jeopardize their actual season.  This is true, however, the Pro Bowl is actually less taxing than most preseason games. Players never go full speed during the game so there’s little to no injury risk,, and it’s a great ways for players to see game action, test their skills against different schemes, and learn new things from other players before the season actually starts.  I think coaches would actually be for this idea, not against it, especially if it gives them a little more time to prepare before their first game.
One last point I’ll make, is that the NFL can turn Hall of Fame weekend into their version of baseball’s All Star Week.   There wouldn’t be a better way to introduce the top rookie prospects than to have a futures game of sorts, maybe a 5 on 5 game, some sort of skills competitions where they compete with the pros, or better yet, the retired hall of fame inductees.  Fans what to see what their new weapons can do, and this is a great way to introduce them to the league.
The league is missing out on a golden opportunity here.  The Pro Bowl should be a moneymaking machine, not a burden that needs to be eliminated.  This is a really an easy fix in my eyes, and needs to happen soon.