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No more return specialists in the Pro Bowl

Marc Mariani, Zak DeOssie AP

One of the changes the NFL is making to the Pro Bowl is the elimination of kickoffs. Another change is the elimination of Pro Bowl return men.

In the past, one return specialist per conference was chosen to the Pro Bowl. But this year, the NFL announced, there will be no return specialists. The number of players per Pro Bowl team will remain the same because the two Pro Bowl returners will be replaced by two additional Pro Bowl defensive backs.

There are still punts in the Pro Bowl, so some player will return punts, but that player will not be chosen to the team solely for his ability to return punts. Instead, the two Pro Bowl coaches will choose their punt returners from among Pro Bowl receivers, running backs and defensive backs. (And there are so few punts in the Pro Bowl that the coaches might as well just not even bother having anyone return them.)

If there are any return men in the NFL who have Pro Bowl bonuses in their contracts, you can bet they and their agents will be unhappy about this new rule change. But the reality is that return men are slowly being phased out of professional football as the NFL increasingly views kicking plays, with their propensity for high-speed collisions, as particularly dangerous.

Some day the lack of return men could extend far beyond the Pro Bowl. Eventually, there may be no kicks to return in the NFL at all.

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30 Responses to “No more return specialists in the Pro Bowl”
  1. natelan69 says: Jul 31, 2013 5:20 PM

    Watching my opponent return a kickoff for a touch down he didn’t deserve in Madden is the most frustrating thing in the world.

    Returning a kickoff for a touch down I didn’t deserve is the most gratifying sensation in the world.

  2. youarejealousof6rings says: Jul 31, 2013 5:22 PM

    Shame on you, NFL.

  3. dynaflashtech says: Jul 31, 2013 5:23 PM

    Imo, this is a very sad day. I can see modifying the kicking game some but clearly this is the forebearer to eliminating the kicking game altogether.

  4. yondo123 says: Jul 31, 2013 5:24 PM

    How will Kassim Osgood make the team now?

  5. adkfootballfan says: Jul 31, 2013 5:27 PM

    And, so the back door changes to the NFL begins.

    I suspect that Roger will also want to play the Pro Bowl in Europe…

  6. 8to80texansblog says: Jul 31, 2013 5:29 PM

    Poor Jacoby Jones….

  7. deepseabreeze says: Jul 31, 2013 5:34 PM

    this is a travesty

  8. blacknole08 says: Jul 31, 2013 5:35 PM

    This is stupid. A good return specialist can change field position and the momentum of a game in an instant.

    Just dumb.

  9. jonwill57 says: Jul 31, 2013 5:35 PM

    Enough already! This game should be called due to lack of interest. It’s worse than a pre-season game. It offers no redeeming qualities at all.

  10. richardmswartz says: Jul 31, 2013 5:41 PM

    I can’t wait for the official NFL Kickoff Weekend to take place when there is no more kicking.

  11. logicalvoicesays says: Jul 31, 2013 5:42 PM

    You can have all 10-12 of our spots because Washington will be preparing to win the Superbowl at Metlife. #BurgundyandGoldStandard

  12. raidadon says: Jul 31, 2013 5:43 PM

    The wussification of the NFL continues.

  13. camdenyard says: Jul 31, 2013 5:44 PM

    So they are making it even less like real football.

    Just do a flag football game and be done with it.

  14. retsiemfoh says: Jul 31, 2013 5:48 PM

    Makes me sad for Trindon Holliday

  15. dirtysouthniner says: Jul 31, 2013 5:48 PM

    Imho injuries happen in football, all sports for that matter. How many players are already hurt for the year? None on kick return s I bet. Sad sad day that one of the best plays will be eliminate

  16. souldogdave says: Jul 31, 2013 5:49 PM

    A Dark Day for this once-great sport. Put on the flags….

  17. dryzzt23 says: Jul 31, 2013 5:55 PM

    Good for the NFL. This means less overhead and more profits for the owners. Less money for the greedy players and their union.

    Go owners!

  18. gotitan says: Jul 31, 2013 6:09 PM

    Three Words: Music City Miracle!

  19. jdphx says: Jul 31, 2013 6:13 PM

    Goodell is trying to ruin this sport… all at once!

  20. dirtysouthniner says: Jul 31, 2013 6:14 PM

    I think we(niners) lose the pats game w/o that lamichael James return..

  21. charger383 says: Jul 31, 2013 6:28 PM

    Dumb move

  22. petedutcherjr says: Jul 31, 2013 7:51 PM

    I think players should boycott the Pro Bowl.

  23. raider23mike says: Jul 31, 2013 8:05 PM

    Poor Jacoby Ford

  24. knuf69 says: Jul 31, 2013 8:18 PM

    Way to ruin the Game

  25. dallascowboysdishingthereal says: Jul 31, 2013 9:13 PM

    I didn’t think they could make the pro bowl even more meaningless. But they did.

  26. marima07 says: Jul 31, 2013 9:28 PM

    Can the elimination of kick returns be retroactive so the Pats win the 49ers game?

    Can’t believe the league would want to eliminate such an exciting part of the game, that has the potential to change the fortunes of each team with one play.

  27. rcali says: Jul 31, 2013 9:30 PM

    Darn it, now I’m really not going to give a hoot about this game…..just like the players.

  28. bengalguy says: Aug 1, 2013 12:05 AM

    Devin Hester is RIDICULOUS!!!

  29. viguy007 says: Aug 1, 2013 7:19 AM

    Just end the Pro-bowl, it no longer is real football anyway.

  30. joeyashwi says: Aug 1, 2013 1:41 PM

    I think ending kick offs is a great idea. Goodell is a true pioneer. Soon the NBA will follow suit and eliminate jump balls. Also, why have face offs in hockey? Those need to go too. I wish all sports leagues had RG running them. He is a man ahead of his time.
    I’m hoping that soon, the blitz will be deemed illegal soon as well since too many injuries occur when a QB gets hit.
    Welcome to Roger Goodell’s new National Touch Football League.
    Yes I know it’s only the Pro Bowl but it’s obviously a precursor to making it a reality in the regular games. Sad.

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