Though the league is declaring the mainland Pro Bowl experiment a success, we’ve heard multiple complaints regarding the arrangements at the hotel where the players stayed.
Per two league sources, the NFL failed to reserve the hotel for the exclusive use of the players. As a result, the facility had non-NFL guests, who quickly figured out that NFL players were staying there.
This resulted, predictably, in a swarm of autograph requests during otherwise private time. More importantly, it prevented the players from unwinding like they have done in the past, when the game was played in Hawaii and the players had their own hotel.
When only players are around, it’s easier for individual players to let their hair down. When non-players with cell phone cameras are in the vicinity, the same vibe can’t be achieved.
Also, we’re told that the hotel was overbooked, which prevented some of the players’ family members from staying at the same facility.
So regardless of whether the game drew more than 70,000 fans or increased television ratings, the hotel arrangements made the experience far less enjoyable for the players, which will make them far less inclined to accept an invitation to the Pro Bowl in the future, if it’s played at the site of the Super Bowl.