The NFL has yet to decide what to do with the Pro Bowl. On Tuesday, Commissioner Roger Goodell said a decision is coming soon.
“We had a full discussion about that,” Goodell said regarding the two-day ownership meetings in Atlanta. “I would like to have another discussion with [NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith] and the players to give them the feedback we got today on what aspects of the game we should address. But I hope to be making a decision pretty quickly after that conversation with De.”
Goodell said that the game will be played in Honolulu or New Orleans — if it’s played at all.
“We did have a lengthy discussion about the Pro Bowl, not specifically about a site,” Goodell said. “The discussion was about the quality of the Pro Bowl, including the commitments we have with our network partners; where we could play the game and about all of our discussions with the Players Association, how to make the game better. We’ve had numerous discussions over several months about what we can do to make the game more competitive. I’ve said it repeatedly, particularly since the last game that we have to improve the quality of that game. If we can’t improve it and can’t make it more competitive, then we shouldn’t play.”
He’s right, and here’s hoping that playing the Pro Bowl in Hawaii isn’t dangled as some sort of a carrot aimed at getting the NFLPA to agree to the leg-pad proposal or something else the NFL wants to finagle from the union. The Pro Bowl has become a low-quality game, and for good reason. Players don’t want to be injured as they embark on the offseason, and so they have no incentive to play hard. Unless the NFL is going to dramatically increase the checks that go to the players from the winning team, it’ll continue to be flag football in full pads.
Even then, some extra pocket change may not be enough to get the players to play a game that doesn’t count as if it were one that does.