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Sports & Fitness // Hot Air
Steve Murray

Goodell Needs To Pull Plug On Game

Roger Goodell

Roger Goodell, with No. 1 pick Andrew Luck, has more profitable venues to explore. AP photo

It’s days like this that I wish I could better tap into the fascinating world of split personalities. Faced with a topic boasting viable arguments on both sides, it would be fun to debate myself on the pros and cons of the subject at hand. Alas, I am not that gifted. Therefore, speaking only as a singular self, I beg NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to please kill the Pro Bowl.

My other personality, if I had one, would point out the importance of the game to the local economy. Knowing full well that government projections seem to magically affirm supported positions, Felix – that’s what I’ve named the other person trapped inside my head – spoke with people in the hotel and restaurant industry to confirm the Pro Bowl bump is legitimate.

Good for us.

Unfortunately, what makes sense for local business is not necessarily what’s best for the NFL, and that’s the rub. The game has gotten too expensive, the scheduling is awful, players don’t want to play and the game itself is unwatchable. Sorry, Felix.

Goodell has admitted there is a problem with the game but he’s not yet ready to officially cut the cord. Current talk centers around the possibility of suspending the game for 2013, perhaps as a way to devote more time to improving the contest. It won’t help. Time, as it does with all things, has passed the game by.

A problem for the NFL, and a benefit for the state, is that there is only one location attractive enough keep the players who have not yet bolted from leaving permanently. The Catch 22 for the league is that this location also is the most expensive. With ratings sinking, that’s not a good combination, especially since nearly every other venture involving the league is a big money-maker. Unless the league can get the state to eat more of the cost, which is not likely so long as Hawaii’s governor continues to channel New Jersey’s governor and his open appreciation for the former hometown Nets, then the league is going to walk.

Before the days of complete cable coverage, all-star games had their place. They allowed fans to see athletes who were confined to other media markets. However, that hasn’t been the case for more than a decade, and fans are starting to tire of watching a fast and violent game played as if it were anything but. Those whose businesses ride on the thousands of visitors the games generate, or those viewers who actually enjoy watching defensive linemen going after quarterbacks in a full-out walk, don’t have too much to fear in the short term.

The game will stick around just long enough to make the NFL draft seem like must-see TV. But by then the game will be populated by those unable to come up with a good excuse – newcomers looking for publicity and past-their-prime players seeking one more day in the sun. And if it reaches that point, it will be best for both sides to walk away gracefully. If not, we can always go Christie and say good riddance. Christie isn’t as cerebral as Felix.

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