In hindsight, it was stupid to believe that Commissioner Roger Goodell seriously considered suspending the Pro Bowl. Warts and all, it has become the highest-rated all-star game. And the NFL isn’t in the business of giving money back to its business partners when the national broadcast inventory shrinks by one game.
Instead, Goodell likely knew that huffing and puffing would get the NFLPA’s attention, prompting changes aimed at improving the game — and likewise creating the impression that the NFL is willing to work with the players in order to preserve something that the players very much wanted to maintain, especially since it provides for the player and his spouse a paid Hawaiian vacation plus (in 2013) a $52,000 check if a member of the winning team, and a $25,000 check if part of the losing team.
Still, it was the NFL’s call. Under Title 38 of the CBA, the league has the ability to dump the Pro Bowl game in each and every season through 2021: “In any League Year, the NFL may elect, in its sole discretion, not to hold a Pro Bowl game or to replace the Pro Bowl game with another event that recognizes the accomplishments of outstanding NFL players, provided that the NFL will consult with the NFLPA prior to making its determination, and that players are nonetheless selected for such recognition in accordance with Section 2 above, and paid the Pro Bowl incentive bonus, if any, in their Player Contract, for such selection.”
So the NFL didn’t have to keep the Pro Bowl for 2013, and it doesn’t have to in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. While the league could still scuttle the game next year, we fully expect, at most, more huffing and puffing.
For more, here’s some rambling from today’s PFT Live.