Man, did you catch that Pro Bowl on Sunday night?
Oh. Neither did I.
Knowing that the week before the Super Bowl is an awkward, football-less void that leaves us all wanting more, the league decided that this year it would move the Pro Bowl to Miami and have it take up that spot on the schedule.
But did you know that this idea has been tried before? And that it was a game even lamer than the Pro Bowl? And ironically, it was still in Miami.
From 1960-69, a game known as the “Playoff Bowl” was employed by the NFL to pit those teams that weren’t quite good enough to get to the big one.
In the pre-Super Bowl days, the game was played the week after the NFL Championship Game between the two teams that finished in second place in the league’s two divisions. The thing that apparently made this somewhat decent to stomach for players was that unlike the NFL Championship Game, which was played on the field of the team with the best record, the Playoff Bowl was always held at the Orange Bowl in sunny Miami. And back when players didn’t earn nearly as much and held offseason jobs, playing an extra game probably was seen as a bonus no matter how lame the circumstances.
Predictably, the Super Bowl led to the ultimate demise of the Playoff Bowl. The final four Playoff Bowls were held the week prior to the Super Bowl, featuring the two teams that lost in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs. Though there was some talk of keeping the game around as a showcase for the losers of the conference championship games after the AFL-NFL merger, people realized how ridiculous this game really was and it died off.
Don’t believe me? Ask Vince Lombardi.
He referred to the game as the “Shit Bowl” and once said it was “a rinky-dink football game, held in a rinky-dink town, played by rinky-dink players. That’s all second place is—rinky dink.”
Mind you, he was in Green Bay when he said all of this, so that just shows you how lame of a town Miami must have been before the cocaine trade picked up and forced television dramas starring Don Johnson and David Caruso into action. But it also proves that no matter what, there appears to be no fix for that football-less Sunday.
(Fun Bonus Trivia: Did you know the greatest team in the history of the Playoff Bowl is the Detroit Lions? Sure, the Lions have never made it to the Super Bowl, but their all-time mark of 3-0 in the Playoff Bowl will never be topped. Even more amusing is the fact that the Cleveland Browns have an all-time 0-3 record in the game, proving that Cleveland truly can’t win at anything).