Like the other writers at Sports Casualties, I opted to forego my day off to impart another stroke of genius. You know what they say, “Great minds have nothing to do.”
As we all prepare for an afternoon of unbridled joy and/or weeping and gnashing of teeth, I’d like to take a few moments and pull a Reverse Selig, I mean “permanently fix a professional all-star game.”
Yes, I’m talking about making the most irrelevant sporting event God ever put on this earth a riveting showcase for old and young alike.
And no, I’m talking about The Skins Game.
Sports Casualties co-author Bryan Holt casually mentioned repairing the Pro Bowl in the days leading up to his Week in Review column, but was apparently Randy Coutured. Sorry – the words aren’t coming this morning – “Sidetracked by Brock Lesnar.”
So let me pick up where he left off. Here’s the idea: we hold the Scouting Combine in the off-week between the conference title games and Super Bowl Sunday.
Then, and here’s where it gets juicy, we replace all of the prima donna I-don’t-want-to-break-a-nail no-shows and guys with Super Bowl priorities with college football’s crème de la crème. (Pierre Garcon gave me that last line. Thanks, P!)
Now I what you’re thinking, Third Person Disembodied Voice: “That’ll never fly – the potential for injury is just too big. Why would Ndomukang Suh want to mess with a sure thing?”
He wouldn’t. So the NFL gives Todd McShay some real, tangible influence by allowing the top 15 guys on his draft board to decide for themselves – with family, coaches, NFL scouts, etc. – whether or not it’s a good idea to play.
Everybody outside of the McShay Zone is fair game for NFL scouts and Pro Bowl coaches to pluck from pro days and pre-draft workouts and stick on the field against the monsters of the midway.
If you’re still following along, you’ve just realized that this solves a myriad of problems for every GM who’s thought to himself, “You know he dominated the Big Ten and he’s a man-child in the cone drills, but how would he do against Julius Peppers?”
You think this wouldn’t have been advantageous for the hotshot who drafted Robert Gallery?
Everybody in a leadership role within the League would love the college kid wrinkle because it allows for more thorough investment analysis (I’m feeling a Goldman Sachs sponsorship coming on). Franchises sink so much into top prospects, they can’t afford to be wrong.
Still not sure about that 5-foot-9 corner from East Tennessee who just broke 4.3 in the 40? Hey, line him up against Andre Johnson!
Have questions about Tebow’s release? Plant him behind Nick Mangold for a couple series! Hell, then stick him at split end for the rest of the game.
Of course, you can’t force a college kid to play. And if he wants to bypass a shot at vaulting himself from late first day into the top 10 and setting himself and his family up for life, I say godspeed to him.
“Oh, but what makes you think these players will actually give a damn? Most of them have been glued to a couch for a month. You’re still going to wind up with half-hearted blitzes, lackadaisical route-running and an NBA-like “where-are-we-all-going-for-dinner-after-the-game” Boyz Environment.”
Wrong again, Disembodied Voice.
And this brings us to the crux of the whole college-pro wrinkle: guys actually try for once.
Respected stars don’t want to burn their fans by sitting out of the game, but they don’t want to get embarrassed by an over-eager 21-year-old who’s yet to play a professional down either. Some guys will inevitably opt out because of hokey injuries and “prior commitments” – crucial to make room for the prospects – but the pride factor will be too big for most of the pros, especially for the older dudes who want to show the young pups a thing or two.
For the college guys, this is the thrill of their young lives. They’re not taking a day off between the bowl season and the start of the combine. They’re saying no to seconds at the post-season awards ceremonies. They’re in the best shape of their lives, and they’re ready to put themselves on the map against the best athletes in the world.
Most of them would do it for free. But now there’s an ungodly amount of money on the line.
Ideally, the NFL Network would broadcast the whole kit ‘n caboodle for free in one of those semi-dickish “we’re only doing this so you can see what you’re missing” HBO-trial-week moves, and why wouldn’t they? This is gold, Jerry! Ratings gold.
Not only do you pull in every draft buff and the entire fantasy football community, but now you glue to the screen every hardcore college football fan base and every pro football fan base looking for a savior to turn around its franchise.
Are you telling me that there’s a Gators and/or Jaguars fan with a cable connection that wouldn’t tune it to watch Tim Tebow start for the AFC in the Pro Bowl?
YOU CAN NOT BE SERIOUS!??
That was a little strong, John McEnroe. But thanks for weighing in.
Unfortunately, we’ll have to keep the game in the Super Bowl city to avoid a David Stern-synthetic basketball situation in which the guys upstairs spin a epic 180 and everyone gets egg on their face. Which means this whole thing could end up going down in Detroit or Kansas City.
But look. It’s a glorified East-West Shrine Game, a ratings bonanza for the NFL and Mel Kiper’s wet dream.
Plus, you’d get heart-warming sideline moments like this:
Peyton Manning: “Arrelious, you’re coming out of your breaks too early. Watch Reggie do it… Now your learning Arrelious (*ass-slap*)!”
That’s great TV, folks. Just great television.
We’re officially late for Jets-Colts. Screw it. Come on down, royalties!
– Copyright, Robbie (2010, unless Bryan thought of it first)