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January 30, 2023
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Ranking the NFL Pro Bowl skills competitions by how chaotic they will be

You know the old saying about NFL being short for No Fun League? Well, somebody at the league has apparently decided to turn the fun meter all the way up to 11 this year — at least for two glorious days in February.

That’s right, the NFL’s new Pro Bowl format — officially branded as the Pro Bowl Games — will be all, “We put the ‘Fun’ in ‘No Fun League!’”

Earlier this week, the league announced the eight different skills competitions for the format and they range from mild-hearted to absolute chaos. So, with that said, let’s put on the ol’ journalism hat to rank them accordingly.

8. Precision passing
As far as Pro Bowl skills competition is concerned, this one is a classic. Players have to hit 10 targets within one minute, and they get extra points when also putting the ball in a bucket 60 yards away. A basic throwing competition, there’s nothing wrong with that. Something does have to check in at No. 8, though, so this one it is.

Unless Mitchell Trubisky is part of it to rain chaos and incomplete throws upon the competition, of course.

7. Best catch
Two competing players from each conference are asked to “show off their creativity, inventiveness and talent” when it comes to catching a football. But unless they opt to send in the linemen to participate, this will just be a pretty standard event. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but nowadays it just feels like we see highlight-reel catches every single week.

6. Move the Chains
Teams of five will compete in an effort to move a wall loaded up with weights 10 yards as quickly as possible. And they will be using first-down chains to do it. Is it something special? Not really. Is it creative? Somewhat. Is it ranked right where it needs to be ranked? Probably.

5. Gridiron Gauntlet
A 40-yard relay race with a series of obstacles to make it more difficult. This is another one of those competitions I’d just love to see the big guys compete in. Jason Kelce climbing over walls and under tables as if he was an extra in Full Metal Jacket? Yes, please!

4. Kick Tac Toe
This one gets an extra point (no pun intended) for the name. And one more for creativity, too. So, what’s it all about? The NFL describes the event as follows:

Each team’s kicker, punter and long snapper compete in a giant Tic-Tac-Toe competition to showcase their respective skills. The first team to complete a connecting line of three squares or hit five squares total will be declared the winner and earn three points for his conference.

This sounds like fun. Also, every chance to give long snappers some spotlight is a welcome one.

3. Epic Pro Bowl Dodgeball
What’s not to like about this one? It’s an old-fashioned four-team dodgeball tournament! Sure, throwing and catching has always been part of the game since the introduction of the forward pass, but still… It’s dodgeball!

Although, to be fair, I pity the guys going up against somebody like Josh Allen in this one. Dude could probably throw a dodgeball right through a human torso if he really tried.

2. Longest Drive
Now we’re getting into the interesting part. Four players from each conference will literally just drive a golf ball from the tee and the furthest distance wins. That’s it. This might be the most random competition of them all, and I’m all here for it.

1. Lightning Round
This will be absolute mayhem, because it reads like something an 8-year-old came up with:

In the first event, “Lightning Round – Splash Catch,” teammate pairings from each conference will toss water balloons back and forth from increasing distances. Each tandem that completes all of their tosses advances to the second phase. In part two, “Lightning Round – High Stakes,” advancing players will attempt to catch punts from a JUGS machine to earn a place representing their conference in the final round of the competition. In the final part of the challenge, “Lightning Round – Thrill of the Spill,” the remaining players from each conference will aim at targets attached to a bucket hanging above the head of an opposing conference’s coach. The first team to dump the bucket on the opposing coach wins and earns three points for his conference.

We’ve all been to a birthday party just like that, right? Except for the JUGS machine part, probably.

Also, I really want to know what’s going to be inside that bucket. Will it be slime? Tom Brady’s gazillion Super Bowl rings? Bees? Or will it be just an empty bucket dropping on somebody’s head? Everything about it is intriguing, so this competition gets the vote for most chaotic this year.

The 2023 Pro Bowl Games will take place between Feb. 2 and Feb. 5 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. A series of flag football games will also be part of the action.

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