Can you believe that the NFC has three Pro Bowl quarterbacks this season who played for Sean McVay’s Rams since 2020? Now, can you believe that two of them already said “No thank you”?
Matthew Stafford was named to his second career Pro Bowl but was replaced by Geno Smith after declining to participate. Jared Goff was named as a Pro Bowl replacement, then was replaced by Baker Mayfield after he also declined to participate.
Three former number one picks, three quarterbacks who worked with McVay, only one of them actually eager to participate in the Pro Bowl. Just wait until Mayfield isn’t named a year after he was in danger of being out of the league, soon enough he too will decide that it’s not worth the trouble.
Aaron Donald also declined to participate in the Pro Bowl. They can say it’s because of “injuries” but we all know the truth:
If the Pro Bowl was even a regular season game, Stafford and Donald wouldn’t think twice about being healthy enough to play. But as an event, it’s not even an honor to be named anymore. Last season, Tyler Huntley was a Pro Bowl quarterback. You put it on your resume and you move on.
For a rookie like Puka Nacua or a second-year running back like Kyren Williams, L.A.’s only two other Pro Bowl nominations, attending your first Pro Bowl makes sense. Once the novelty of being a Pro Bowl player wears off though, they’ll stop attending and soon the “replacement” list will be all the way down to practice squad players.
You can’t even claim to be playing in a game that gets half the ratings of a regular season game.
Last year’s Pro Bowl drew 6.2 million viewers, the lowest non-pandemic year ratings since 2006. After the 2020 season, the Pro Bowl got 8 million viewers, but in 2014 it was 11.3 million. That means that even after the NFL attempted to make it more interesting with new events in recent seasons, ratings are almost half of what they used to be.
Will you be watching the Pro Bowl or any of the events? Or will you just say that you will, then the weekend goes by, and you realized...”Oh, I guess I actually didn’t.”
Because 6 million viewers suggests that very few of you reading this will actually watch the Pro Bowl or any events. You could just catch something late on YouTube or Twitter clips. Not actually watch.
Stafford and Donald are two of the least-likely players in the league to participate in a Pro Bowl at this stage of their careers, but surely would rather have it on their track record than not: Donald has made the Pro Bowl in every season of his career, while Stafford’s Hall of Fame case surely looked weaker with only one Pro Bowl nomination. (I’m not even sure Stafford would show up to Canton for a Hall induction, to be honest.)
Puka and Kyren are two of the most deserving this year and likely thrilled to be invited. How long will that excitement last?
Though ratings are low for the NFL, they are high for most TV shows. Most shows don’t get 6 million viewers anymore. So there isn’t going to be an end to the Pro Bowl any time soon. It’s just hard to fathom anything that the NFL could do to actually make people interested (a real game can’t happen because of injury concerns) and no matter how many skills competitions or Madden activities they come up with, nothing compares to a real game.
Who cares about the Pro Bowl? Puka Nacua and Kyren Williams do. Maybe that’s enough for now.