This was real. The Super Bowl champs, would play an exhibition game, against a team of recently drafted COLLEGE All-Stars.
They didn’t always win.
And it lasted until 1974.
I know you are saying, GTFO on that nonsense… but… lo and behold… see for yourself!
The Chicago College All-Star Game is an INSANE concept by today’s standards, and I am in NO WAY recommending we attempt to re-create it. The money is too big now, the league is already more than popular enough, and so it would have just about every involved party firmly against it.
But it’s a good reminder of how far we’ve drifted with the Pro Bowl, and with All-Star games in general. Which is why I think the NHL’s tweaked format might be the way forward after seeing it this weekend.
So here’s what the NHL does right.
1. They force players to attend, with threat of suspension if they don’t.
2. They have a fun skills competition.
3. The scaled down 3-on-3 works, because it’s all action.
4. They pay cash to the winners.
The NFL is lost. Utterly. Here’s what they don’t do right.
1. The players don’t come anymore.
2. The game is wrongly placed before the Super Bowl.
3. You can’t play a full 11-on-11 tackle game anymore, so don’t try.
4. Both winners and losers get paid.
5. It needs a permanent home in Hawaii. Stop moving it.
6. There’s no skills competition to see players hanging out having fun.
7. The “un-conferenced” format is a DUD. Nobody cares.
8. 4th and 5th string “replacements” bastardize notion of “Pro Bowler.”
I would propose the NFL do the following. And tell the union, it’s NON-negotiable, so if this is “too much bother” for their players, then we’ll just cancel it, until a day comes when your guys realize this is good for THEM too, and beg us to re-instate it.
1. Pro Bowl voting is a combination of players, coaches, and GM’s. No fans.
2. Game moves to weekend AFTER the Super Bowl, so everyone can attend.
3. Being there is MANDATORY, if you are voted in. You don’t have to play if injured, but you need to be there to at least “hang out” on camera and be promoted as a league “star.”
4. Re-Conference the teams, so that making the Pro Bowl is a relevant reference point for who had a good year or not, going forward in the league’s record books.
5. Pay each player $250,000 for the weekend. Skipping it is a $250,000 fine. That’s 1/2 a million bucks to delay that winter vacation a week. Is it really worth it, Tom Brady?
6. Create a good skills competition.
7. Have players wear their own team uniforms, with a PATCH that says Pro Bowl. (Always loved that look!) These special uniforms are shit, and very few people buy them.
8. Create a “scaled down” game to play, perhaps 7-on-7 with limited contact.
Yeah, I know. That’s an expensive game for a league that likes the phrase: “At no cost to the league.” We’d be talking $11,000,000 per TEAM, if you just went 2-deep on O/D to the tune of 44 players.
Pay the players a bit less, and keep rosters smaller. Like I said, we’re giving up playing a real full game at this point.
The sales job will be to convince the players: 1) They are lucky as shit to be in the NFL, and should be honored to be there. 2) They reap considerable marketing benefits for the exposure, and may change people’s perception of them from negative to positive if they can see you in a more relaxed setting.
And most of all, 3) Fuck you, it’s Hawaii in winter.
It shouldn’t that hard.
I stumbled upon the College All Star game a few years ago and was amazed to see that it went all the way into the 70s. It reminded me that there was a time when 1) the student athlete actually existed 2) other professions paid better than pro tackle football and 3) it was not unusual that the best players in the game didn’t always go on to the pros. Looks like the college all stars losing 12 straight games and facing the likes of the Dolphins and Steelers pretty much ended that.
Must say, your write up is PERFECT! That would make the pro bowl something to watch. I “forgot” about it yesterday. Had plans to flip it on at some point after (or during) Badger basketball game. Then forgot entirely about the game. hahaha
As a little kid, the College All Star Game generated way more excitement in me than the Hall of Fame Game ever did. A key was that you wanted to see your team’s draftees and get a line on them. Every fan base had a rooting interest in the game.
I used to watch the NFL vs. College All-Stars when I was a kid. I remember being ticked off one year when punter Pat McInally, playing for the College All-Stars, got his leg broken during the game. McInally had been drafted by my team, the Bengals, so I was mad he got hurt. But that was a long time ago, I was a kid, and I could be remembering it all wrong.
“The hold is clean, the kick is sharp”. Man I miss Keith Jackson.