After a ten year absence, the NFL is bringing back a skills competition to the Pro Bowl. There are the usual events from the past, including a passing accuracy event and a race. To make it more of a spectacle, it will be run by the production team from American Ninja Warrior, and will feature.... dodgeball. Epic dodgeball.
Epic Pro Bowl Dodgeball: Pro Bowlers will compete in a game of dodgeball.
Power Relay Challenge: Four team members will compete in a timed relay race.
Precision Passing: Two players on each team will battle it out, trying to hit moving targets of varying size and distance.
Best Hands: Quarterback and wide receiver duos from each team will show off their skills, connecting on as many pass attempts as possible before time runs out.
Fans are encouraged to join the conversation surrounding the new Pro Bowl Skills Showdown on social media using the hashtag #ProBowlSkills.
What could possibly go wrong? Plenty. In 1998, Patriots rookie running back Robert Edwards rushed for 1115 yards and 9 touchdowns, earning a spot in the Pro Bowl. One of the skills challenges was a game of flag football on the beach, during which he blew out his knee so severely that he was out for three years, effectively ending his career.
But at least that freak injury occurred demonstrating NFL abilities. Dodgeball has little in common with football, you would think an NFL skills competition would showcase actual NFL skills. Passing competition, races, kicking competitions, strongest man.... a competitive Combine between NFL players makes sense and has obvious interest.
But dodgeball? It seems like the NFL could do better here. The idea of Philip Rivers trying to bean Aaron Donald or Larry Fitzgerald trying to pick off LeSean McCoy is interesting, but have they really thought of the best kids game for adults? Kickball has more to offer, with players arguing over who gets to pitch and then the winner not being able to throw a strike, one team taking it way too seriously, and a lineman bunting could be comical. Or how about Four Square or Wall ball? Or offensive and defensive linemen doing hopscotch or jump rope? The press release indicates there are more events, maybe they’ll have tag or hide and seek. Or how about just NFL Ninja Warrior.
Potential dodgeball injury victims will be announced on December 20th.