NFL scraps Pro Bowl, adds Pro Bowl Games

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

A week-long competition, not including the annual all-star game, as it’s known, is replacing the Pro Bowl.

A multi-year review of the worthiness of the wintertime NFL showcase concluded fans and players alike were tuning out the Pro Bowl despite repeated attempts to alter the format, location and selection process in recent years.

Now comes the first “Pro Bowl Games” in Las Vegas, a showcase that will include a flag football game on Sunday, Feb. 5.

“We’ve received invaluable feedback from players, teams and fans about re-imagining the Pro Bowl, and as a result, we’re thrilled to use The Pro Bowl Games as a platform to spotlight Flag football as an integral part of the sport’s future while also introducing fun, new forms of competition and entertainment that will bring our players, their families and fans closer than ever before,” said Peter O’Reilly, NFL Executive Vice President, Club Business and League Events. “Building on the success of the 2022 Pro Bowl and 2022 Draft, as well as our strong partnership with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) and Las Vegas Raiders, we look forward to bringing The 2023 Pro Bowl Games to the capital of world-class sports and entertainment.”

In 2013, commissioner Roger Goodell said he first informed owners in a group setting that without “improved quality,” the Pro Bowl tackle football game was not valuable to the NFL or its players. And 10 years later, the most radical changes yet are set to be put in place for the showcase.

Peyton Manning would have oversight of some elements of the skills competition and be a member of the flag football game coaching staff.

A full schedule of events will be released later this year, the NFL said in a statement on Monday.

The league said the Pro Bowl games “will maintain fan-favorite moments and events, including fan voting, which will start in the fall and help determine the NFC and AFC team rosters; skills activities, where the NFL’s best players participate in unique competitions; and the East-West Shrine Bowl, where senior collegiate pro prospects have an opportunity to showcase and develop their talents.”

Players to Goodell and multiple franchise owners have been critical of the Pro Bowl for devolving into a passive competition and not truly honoring the 88 players selected for the NFC and AFC teams.

A format change allowing teams to be drafted by legends, such as Deion Sanders, Jerry Rice and Michael Irvin, initially created some fan interest but the gameday elements were not holding up in Goodell’s view, saying “the game itself doesn’t work.”

The Pro Bowl was introduced in 1951 in Los Angeles but became rooted in NFL tradition as a destination game when it anchored in Hawaii from 1980-2009.

–Field Level Media

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