Usually All Star Games are major events for a league and a host city. Yet, the Cincinnati Bengals present a cautionary tale for those that play in these games.
This weekend is the NBA All Star Game; practically the only major American sports event aside from the Super Bowl happening in February. While it may seem odd for a Cincinnati Bengals writer to write about the NBA, there is a reason. The Cincinnati Bengals showcased a major drawback to all star games. Not just the NFL’s Pro Bowl but all the major all star games. In particular, Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert represents the major drawback.
Eifert was one of the Bengals selected to participate in the 2016 Pro Bowl. From the onset it’s a notable honor, plus he got to take a business trip to Hawaii. Eifert left that Pro Bowl with an injury that left him sidelined for much of this past season. Playing in just eight games last year, the least he’s played since 2014. As a result of this Eifert’s expressed that he never plans to play in another Pro Bowl.
The fear of injury is one factor that’s turned the Pro Bowl into a flavorless game. Without the same strenuous defensive effort one would see in the regular season or playoffs. The NBA’s All Star Game has become notorious for being a game with virtually no defense. It could be possible that the winning team in Sunday’s game might score 200 points. Last year saw the Western Conference beat the Eastern Conference by a staggering 196-173 final score.
All star games are meant to be fun showcases of a league’s big stars. While this remains the case, it’s easy for some to claim we’re not exactly seeing the best effort. Plus, in the Pro Bowl’s case we don’t even get to see the players participating in the Super Bowl. At least those watching the NBA’s All Star Game on Sunday will get to see players that will likely play in the NBA Finals. In this respect the NBA could teach the NFL about improving the Pro Bowl.
The NFL’s Pro Bowl used to effectively end the leagues season. When the game was played the week after the Super Bowl. That meant that you could get the Super Bowl participants to play. This isn’t a big issue for other leagues, because their all star games are played roughly midway through the regular season. If the NFL really wanted to improve the Pro Bowl maybe it should do the same.
Eifert’s injury showcased the risks of participating in an all star game. Yet, if the Pro Bowl was more of an honor to take part in. Perhaps Eifert and others would have a less dim view of the Pro Bowl.