Phenom Defender Has Terrible Idea for Pro Bowl

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The NFL should go full-tilt with the maligned Pro Bowl festivities and let players take on fans in a flag football game.

That’s the suggestion, anyway, from Cleveland Browns EDGE rusher Myles Garrett. The phenom defender injured his toe in February at the Pro Bowl — not a long-term ailment — and now claims he’s retired from the event.

Phenom Defender Has Terrible Idea for Pro Bowl

Garrett offered the fan-infused idea this week, “Say, you got the D-line and the O-line to be quarterbacks, and we play with fans and they would be the skill positions. And then you’d have fans being quarterback and running backs, and then you have the skill guys playing their natural positions, but you have fans playing those two [other positions] — quarterback and running back — throwing to them and just playing out of the backfield.”

Phenon Defender Has
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

The Pro Bowl already devolved into flag football, so it is unclear how players — and amateur fans — would avoid injury under the proposed plan. Perhaps everyone would just take it easy and hope for the best.

The NFL began encountering horrible viewership ratings with the Pro Bowl years ago, chiefly because the game was a farce before the league even realized it. During the pandemic season, 2020, the event was canceled altogether.

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) and Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett (95) share a laugh at the conclusion of a Week 14 NFL game, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022, at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Bengals won, 23-10.. © Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK.

But the “game” has since returned, featuring skills competitions among players and the aforementioned flag footballishness. Statista said about the revamped Pro Bowl Games in February, “In 2023, the traditional NFL Pro Bowl was rebranded to the Pro Bowl Games, which featured skills competitions and non-contact games as opposed to a full tackle football game. Viewership for the 2023 Pro Bowl Games on ABC, ESPN, and DisneyXD reached 6.28 million, a fall of six percent on the previous year’s traditional Pro Bowl.”

So, the thing isn’t much improving, even with the stylish revamping. Garrett’s idea might generate newfound interest — pitting everyday citizens against professionals — but is severely unlikely to materialize. Even with non-contact, some fan would get hurt, a player like Garrett would hurt another toe, or it could feel hokey, in general.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings sent seven players to the 2022 season’s Pro Bowl: Dalvin Cook (RB), Kirk Cousins (QB), T.J. Hockenson (TEO), Danielle Hunter (OLB), Justin Jefferson (WR), Andrew DePaola (LS), and Za’Darius Smith (OLB). None were injured.

Garrett has faced the Vikings twice in his career (2017, 2021) and notched 5 tackles, 4 QB hits, 2 tackles for losses, and 0.5 sacks. A tyrant, indeed.

Next on the NFL’s calendar? The draft on April 27th-29th in Kansas City.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by