Voting for the Pro Bowl Sucks

When RT’s count as votes, you know the system stinks up the joint

When the NFL releases the Pro Bowl rosters each year, the sports world gets a tad too excited. It becomes hot take central for shows and personalities that get a boost in content late in the NFL season. This season’s exhibition will not take place in Honolulu but rather in Orlando. Every year the game becomes a horrendous rating tanker with stars bowing out and the lack of intensity. The title of “being a Pro Bowl Player” has absolutely no merit anymore. Voting has become a sham, ESPECIALLY this year and guess what — most of the biggest stars will still sit it out.

For me, the pinnacle of the game was back in 2006 when Redskins Safety, Sean Taylor *in Tom Jackson voice* “JACKED UP” Bills Punter, Brian Moorman.

It was the unexpected that made the glorified exhibition game something to tune into but with players more worried about their well-being (as they should be) and their fellow Pro-Bowlers, tackling and defense have gone down the drain with the ratings. Since 2006, the Pro Bowl has just been on a downward spiral.

To spice up the game, and give us a blatant attempt to bring a higher rating to the game, in 2014, the NFL attempted what fans of the Madden video game could do for a long time, a Fantasy Draft. Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders were the “captains” and selected players back in forth, eliminating conferences. Fans watched the draft but the game was still a terrible ratings draw. Last year, ESPN basically gave up on the draft halfway through it because anyone could tell by the body language and comments by Mike Tirco and Jon Gruden. It was laborious and not worth it anymore.

This year, the league has gone back to the AFC vs the NFC — the way it should be. The NFL has actually made another great decision, implementing skills competitions once again! The events include dodgeball, a relay race, a passing competition with moving targets and a best hands showdown with receivers and quarterbacks attempting to complete plenty of passes within a time limit. It is a breath of fresh air to see events back at Pro Bowl Weekend.

Here though, is where the NFL blew it this year, social media voting. Below is a portion of the NFL Communications press release to announce the “opening” of social voting:

SOCIAL MEDIA VOTING OPENS FOR 2017 PRO BOWL

— For the first time, fans may now cast their vote through social media by using #ProBowlVote on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram —

Now, I do not have an issue with individual people tweeting three names and the #ProBowlVote. That is a legitimate vote. The problem comes with Facebook comments and especially retweets. The NFL allowed a vote to be cast if a person commented a name of a player on an NFL Pro Bowl vote post or a Team Pro Bowl vote post. The problem here is that fans can post comment after comment after comment voting for the same player(s) from a team account. I can’t actually recall but aren’t the Dallas Cowboys a more ‘liked’ page than the Jacksonville Jaguars? Why yes, that is the case. The Cowboys have 8,623,237 likes while the Jaguars have 591,279 (yes those are the real numbers at the time I am typing this). In this scenario, the Cowboys players can receive 68% more Pro Bowl votes than the Jaguars player. It is ridiculous.

The NFL also introduced the vote by retweet. Anyone can retweet the exact vote of a team OR another person. In my world view, people should vote for players they want to see in the Pro Bowl themselves. Maybe that is wrong, but it leads to more and more one-sided votes. Folks who casually agree on someones entire vote or just even one player, they can vote easily with a retweet.

No wonder the Dallas Cowboys have the top vote getters in fellow rookies Dak Prescott and Ezikiel Elliott. Six teams, SIX FRANCHISES do not have a single Pro Bowler including the Detriot Lions, New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers, New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars. I mean the public could not get Matt Stafford or Drew Brees or Akeem Hicks into the Pro Bowl? The ease of retweeting keeps the same seemingly fifteen to twenty players in each vote cast. Yes, there were a record number of votes but they are skewed votes. A record amount of votes will not help the ratings, trust me.

Here is an idea for voting. Go back to the online form and on each page of the form, have a different position plus the ability for write-ins at each position. Add a short stat line for each player that gets updated every week. It would be a small insight into how well the players are actually performing. Make the voting open from after week four until after week fifteen. Let the individual have the opportunity to have enough information available to get deserving players in.

The Pro Bowl is intended for the highest performing players of the most recent season. It was a prestigious honor to be named to the game before but it has become a watered down popularity contest and to boot, it is unwatchable. That though, is a whole other conversation. The Pro Bowl does not need to be a social media popularity contest, which is what it became especially this year.

Lets work on making the Pro Bowl great again.

***This post originally appeared on John Amoroso’s Medium page on December 22, 2016***

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