The NFL is apparently willing to try anything to fix the Pro Bowl. Earlier this week Albert Breer of NFL Network reported that the league is discussing game show-like elements, such as paying out prizes during play, in order to “make it so every single minute of the game has some sort of thing that’s going to keep fans interested and engaged." Breer also said the NFL doesn't “feel the need to keep the integrity of what a normal football game is.”
You know things are bad when the strict, image-obsessed NFL is willing to tweak its flawless product. (There's also talk of designating AFC and NFC team captains, who would then pick their teams. But let's not go crazy here.) The status of this rumored game show scenario is yet to be determined, but if they decide to press their luck (and perhaps be more proactive in controlling the pet population), the rules would more or less write themselves.
Rule 1. Kickoffs
In lieu of a kickoff, the captain of the receiving team will select a trivia question from one of five categories to determine starting field position. The questions are organized by difficulty, with the hardest corresponding to the best field position. If that player declines to provide an answer, his team will receive the ball at its own 15-yard line.
- 1a. In the event that the captain of the receiving team is unable to answer the first trivia question, the referee will continue asking questions until the captain gets one right. Each incorrect answer moves the team's starting position back by five yards, beginning at the 35 yard line. After four incorrect answers, the opposing team's captain may attempt to "steal" possession of the football by correctly answering any of the questions.
- 1b. Should neither captain be able to answer any of the four questions, the line judge will wheel out a Plinko board that has been fitted with slots corresponding to field positions. The receiving team's captain will let the Plinko puck sort it all out.
Rule 2. Scoring plays
After any field goal, touchdown or safety, the scoring player will remove his helmet and report to their team's Budweiser Select Pro Bowl Hollywood Squares set, which will be located behind the respective end zones. That player will then call on one of the nine celebrities occupying the 3x3 cube structure and ask them to guess the most frequent response given during a football-themed crowd poll that was conducted prior to the game. If the selected celebrity answers correctly, the scoring player's team will receive an additional two points, and the celebrity involved will get $10,000.
- 2a. Each team will play with the same Budweiser Select Pro Bowl Hollywood Squares set for the duration of the game. If over the course of the four quarters a team receives correct answers from three celebrities arranged adjacently in a horizontal, vertical or diagonal line, it will win a purse of $150,000.
- 2b. Any money won by a team will be divvied up between quarters on the sideline, in full view of the crowd, using a money booth populated with $100 bills. Players will draw numbers to determine the order in which they enter the booth, and each session will last 15 seconds. This will repeat until all of the money has been secured.
Rule 3. Field goals
In lieu of traditional field goals kicked by foot, a team's placekicker will have a chance to earn both 3 points for his side and $10,000 for himself by playing NFL Assault. The kicker must navigate the field of play while avoiding such obstacles as weight sleds, tackling dummies and a collapsing Albert Haynesworth, and then fire footballs from Jugs machines at a large target inside the goal post. A player from the opposing team will stand at a station above the target and fire footballs at the placekicker; if the kicker is struck by a ball before successfully hitting the goal post target, the field goal attempt is terminated.
- 3a. If a team is down by 15 points or more, it may elect to go for a Bonus Field Goal by sending an offensive lineman into the Assault field in place of a kicker. A successful Bonus Field Goal is worth 4 points for the team and $20,000 for the individual player. Tight ends are ineligible for these challenges.
- 3b. If a team is down 22 points or more, it may opt for the Pepsi Max-Bonus Field Goal. The PMBFG requires an offensive lineman to compete in the NFL Assault with the caveat that he must carry another player on his back. That player must remain on the lineman's back at all times. A successful fire on the target in the stated manner is worth 7 points and $20,000 for the lineman, plus $10,000 for the player carried on his back. For these challenges, tight ends are eligible to be the carrying player, but not the carried one.
Rule 4. Penalties
Referees assess penalties in the usual manner according to the NFL Rulebook. However, each time a penalty is assessed against a team, that team must vote one of its own players off the field and play with 10 players (or fewer) for the remainder of the possession.
Rule 5. Challenges
Each head coach has one traditional challenge per quarter and three physical challenges, such as "Egg on A Linebacker's Face," "Bombs Away," "Make It Rain" and "Oopsie Daisy!" The head coach opting for a physical challenge will signal such a challenge by throwing an orange-and-black striped flag onto the field of play. The coach may appoint only players that are on the field during the play in question to attempt the physical challenge.
- 5a. Successful completion of a physical challenge will result in a team winning the challenge regardless of what actually transpired during the disputed play. Successful physical challenges are worth $10,000 for each participating player.
- 5b. If a team fails on two physical challenges, a third physical challenge will be a Holiday Inn Super Sloppy Physical Challenge, a significantly more difficult challenge that has been vetted by the NFLPA. Successful completion of a HISSPC is worth $15,000 for each player involved.
Rule 6. Fourth downs
On a fourth down with a first-down distance of 10 yards or fewer, a team may elect to Spin the NFL Wheel rather than punting or running a play from scrimmage. Each slot on the wheel corresponds to a different outcome, such as "Gain one yard", "Gain five yards", "Loss of possession", "Loss of this possession and next possession" or "Automatic first down and a Toyota Yaris". Any prizes earned will go to the player who spun the wheel.
- 6a. Each team is limited to three spins per game.
- 6b. Should a team desire one additional spin, it may attempt to earn one by designating a player to challenge a competitor in the large octagonal Win a Spin Cage. Once inside, NFC players will have to win a staring contest against Bill Belichick; AFC players must face Tom Coughlin. Failure to defeat either coach will result in a turnover on downs, and the defeated player being carted off the field.