Goodell “disappointed” in last week’s Pro Bowl, hints at changes to format

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The quality of the play in the Pro Bowl has been an issue for the NFL at various points in recent years and it has come up again this week after a lackluster showing in Hawaii last Sunday.

At his annual press conference from the Super Bowl, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was asked about his reaction to the game. The commissioner did not have a positive take on what he saw.

“I was disappointed in what I saw on Sunday,” Goodell said. “I raised this issue three or four years ago. We worked with a number of players to make changes to the game. They had a positive impact, at least in the short term but I didn’t see that this past week. …It’s not the kind of game we want to continue to have in its current format. … If it’s not real competition that we can be proud of, we have to do something different.”

There have been a variety of ideas tossed around about other ways to approach the Pro Bowl, including ditching the game entirely or having some sort of a skills competition. Goodell wouldn’t speculate on what path the league might take, but it’s become clear over the years that stripping away the physical nature of the games that matter leaves very little of value on the field in the Pro Bowl.

50 responses to “Goodell “disappointed” in last week’s Pro Bowl, hints at changes to format

  1. We, as fans, as players, personnel, etc. need to figure out WHAT can be done to make the Pro Bowl better.
    This could be a name change, to get rid of any perceived animosity.
    It’s obvious people want it. People WANT an NFL All-Star Game.
    How can we do it so it makes sense: It’s entertaining, it’s profitable, and people look forward to it.

  2. A couple of things come to mind.

    Move the game back to the week following the Super Bowl or even two weeks following the Super Bowl.

    Go back to the AFC-NFC format. It’s sad when you don’t even know which Pro Bowl team your favorite player(s) are on.

    You can still do the “Fantasy” draft via AFC-NFC format.

    Bring back the skills competitions!!

  3. The best players are playing in a game that exposes the participants to injuries that might threaten their careers. Only a fool would do that for a trip to Hawaii and between $30 – 60,000. The skills competition would do the same. Suggestion: Have the expected college draftees including those under classmen who have declared all participate and be coached by the Pro Bowl participants. The public would get to see the best college players; the NFL Players would get their recognition; the talent evaluators would have one last time to see the potential draftees in a competitive situation and the kids would compete hard! Most of the NFL Pro Bowlers would probably skip the coaching part but it would give the college players a taste of the NFL.

  4. I like the flag football idea people brought up. However, i believe steve smith got hurt at an offseason kickball game a few years back – flag football games could still produce major injuries, although it is far less risky.

  5. The NHL has been dealing with the same problem. This year they went to a 4 team, 3 on 3 tournament with the winning team sharing one million. The effort level from the players increased dramatically.

    I wonder if some sort of 7 on 7 tournament would work for the NFL? These guys are all competitive, they just need the right environment for that to come out. Having 4 teams fighting for a cash prize and bragging rights might work.

  6. The first rule to problem solving is finding the root cause. In this case, players don’t want to risk injury in a game in which might call for them to sack their own QB; or put a hard hit on one of their real teammates.

    Mr. Commissioner, it’s time for this game to follow the path of the College All-Stars vs. NFL Champion.

    Take your head out of the sand…Quit being so damn stubborn and pull the plug on this travesty. Explain to the Networks and refund the TV revenue (it won’t kill you).

  7. Unlike most sports, football is not entertaining when the players aren’t trying. There’s simply no way to enjoy them playing “stop the motion” in the 2nd half while in basketball it’s fun to watch players do stuff they wouldn’t do in a real game. Just not the same. I’m all for a skills competition or just name the pro bowlers and no game. Winning the game meant nothing to players when it was AFC vs NFC. Means even less with its all mixed up. Just vote the players in and have them participate in skills comp and that’s it.

  8. I would say call the NHL, their All Star game last weekend with their format change was amazing, but I have a hard time seeing how else you can play the game.

  9. In all seriousness….if I were to put a number on it, I think the NFL would have to pay me $300.00 before I would consider taking time out of my day to watch the NFL pro-bowl end-to-end without doing anything else. There is no way I would voluntarily watch that game.

  10. Skills competitions would be cool for the passing game, but how do you expect oline and dline to shine in a skills competition if they dont block or rush with aggressivity?

    They arent going to run the Oklahoma drill and have someone tear an ACL like Dante Fowler….

    Whats killing the game is the running game on offense. They should just trow the ball almost every down. That would hide away much of the crappy tackling and blocking.

    I say keep the game in the current format, but allow the offense to run only once for every 1st down.

  11. Well, football is inherently riskier than other sports AND the game has no meaning. It’s a perfect recipe for players just hanging around the gridiron. Something has to be on the table at play and financial compensation has to be even better if you want players to risk getting injured (and in a lot of cases, risk their shot at a possibble nice contract in the future) the way they do for the other 16 games and playoffs.

    Bottomline: in the Pro Bowl the risks far outweight the rewards, and you can’t blame players for not giving their best shot.

  12. Want to fix the Pro Bowl? 1) Move the game back so that it follows the Super Bowl, so players from the championship games (and teams) will be more likely to participate. 2) Restore the AFC vs NFC format – most fans follow teams, not players, and splitting their traditional loyalties makes fans even less invested in the outcome. 3) Add skills competitions to fill the week instead of the contrived Rice vs. Irvin draft shenanigans. 4) Stop expecting the same intensity as the regular season and playoffs – this is a post-season exhibition game and it should be fun above all else.

  13. Here’s my idea for the Pro Bowl:

    Have the Super Bowl the week after the conference championship games, then the season is over.

    Problem solved.

  14. Goodell should know. He’s the one who changed the game into it’s current format.

    The Pro Bowl, at its best, is a casual exhibition game between the conferences best players. Goodell reduced it to a silly pickup sandlot game, and scheduled it so that the league’s top two teams would have no players participating. He’s to blame for this fiasco.

  15. Hey Roger – most people here are disappointed in the job you’re doing. How ’bout a change?

  16. 1. Move it back to after the super bowl….you stand a better chance of people hungry for anything football AFTER the last actual game of the season…crying out loud, look at the pre-season now. You’d think it was regular season games.

    2. Get rid of that ridiculous draft and go back to AFC vs NFC. removing the conference Us vs Them element probably lost a few folks.

    3. Opt out players relinquish the status of being sent to the pro-bowl….you want it on your resume, you play in the game.

    4. Rotate Venues.


    Let it go and just drop it.

  17. I remember in the 90s when there was a type of skills competition at the probowl. I remember all the star qbs throwing balls into the machines that went back and for across the field. I believe there was a Kick and Punt Competition too.. all the players looked like they were having fun with it too. Then i remember when around the time Goodell became COO of the NFL, they got rid of all the probowl skills challenges.

  18. Put a end to the owners discrimination of the oakland raiders franchise, that would be doing something.

  19. Especially if they want to keep it in HI, the Pro Bowl should be like the old Battle of the Network Stars TV show. Skills, but non football skills, competitions like kayaking, windsurfing, hoola hooping, poy eating, etc – some cool, serious, and some completely wack events.

  20. No suggestions here…..however, I agree 100% with Goodell and was also disappointed in the pro bowl game…..I too, want it to change.

  21. I thought it looked better than past games where they looked to be standing around and playing in slow motion. Although I wasn’t watching intently.

    Bringing back the conference play could help make it more competitive. Maybe even more so if there was rewards/punishments. Punishment could be losing side has to be the ones chosen for international games.

  22. Get rid of it. Why have a skills challenge, isn’t 17 weeks of games enough of a skills challenge? You want to watch offensive linemen doing timed training camp drills, defense lineman hitting the tackling sled, or would the skills challenge only apply to QB’s, RB’s and WR’s? Just name the players as “All Pros”, All Stars” or whatever, let them get the bonuses stipulated in their contracts for being named as such, and give then a trip to Hawaii. Its almost as bad as the MLB having the All Star game determine homefield in the World series. Just asinine.

  23. Its impossible to motivate these guys unless its a winner take all type of format. Right now, you get a chunk of cash even if you don’t care.. .that’s called communism – its why it FAILS.

  24. Simple solution. MONEY.

    $125,000 to each player on the winning team and ZERO to the non-winning team – pay their travel and lodging, but that’s it. THAT is how the NHL got their “pros” to move.

    The “pros” that don’t want to play… good, the next guy up will.

  25. Play it in the beginning of August, just about when summer camp has everyone in shape, using 50 NFL All Stars and the first 50 draft choices in the current year draft. Mix them together with a rule that each team needs to have at least 5 draft choices on the field on every play. As it is summer, move it from NFL stadium each year. Be interesting to see the top rookies and top veterans together.

  26. Why have a game?

    Name a pro bowl team, give them a participation trophy and a check and move on.

    Then require the winners to do community service to help others less fortunate.

  27. This really isn’t that hard to figure out… For anyone who is mildly creative anyway.

    Here are some options (you are welcome):

    – Play this game well after the Superbowl, when the nation is jonesing for the NFL and having mid-winter football withdrawal

    – Play this game at the Combine in Indy — AND include combine players on each roster (can you imagine how interested EVERYONE will be to see these guys play on actual NFL rosters??? Wow… And whatta kickoff to the offseason)

    – Pay the winning team members a significant $$ award – including the rookies – so the game and outcome matters.

    – Go back to NFC vs AFC so there is meaning to the sides. You can’t mix and match players and expect a fan to really care about one team over the other.

    – Give me credit for this combine idea… I just had this epiphany and I think the concept holds water 🙂

    – Tom Orcutt of Buffalo NY

  28. The only thing about the Pro Bowl that the players like is the bonus they get for being selected for the Pro Bowl. That money is probably more than the winner’s share, and they get it without having to play.

    If they keep the game, it needs to go back to after the Super Bowl. And back to AFC vs NFC. If you want to keep mixing it up, make it so it the divisions are split. That way, you don’t get the Richard Sherman vs Bobby Wagner situation.

    If you don’t keep the game, you still need to name the players for the teams otherwise there’s a clause in their contracts that they can never meet. This would also be cheaper for the teams as well, since the payout would be less, if getting named as a replacement Pro Bowler would satisfy the clause of being named to the Pro Bowl.

  29. 7v7 flag football, allow lineman To be QB, wr, etc; switch it up. I wouldn’t mid also seeing some sort of kicking competition (anyone can enter), target throwing, catching competition…hell, a 3 on 3 bball tourney would even be fun

  30. Just a thought, but why not pay the players a little more. $50,000 really worth risking career ending injury over? Make it worth their damn time. 32 billonaires and and over paid commissioner can surely figure out a way to make it worth their time, to not only play in the pro bowl but compete to win as well. That’s why we watch the sport. Winning team takes home a couple million each player. Look now we have an instant product to watch. Please correct me if its not that simple.

  31. Here is an idea. Play 8 man football. The NHL reduced their all star game to 3 on 3 making it a huge success. I think the 1,000,000 prize for the winning team/Division made a difference. This caused actual competition where players not only played defense, but they played to win. It was a really fun game to watch.

    Baseball has the format that the winner of the all star game wins homefield advantage for the World Series. What if the NFL gave home field advantage for the next Super Bowl to the league who won the Pro Bowl. Think those guys might ante up and really play a game instead of having a light hearted scrimmage? You betcha!!!!!

  32. If the players “decline” for reasons other than an injury that was reported on the last game they played or they are in the SB, they can’t play their teams’ season opener!!!! Maybe that would get your “so-called” best players in the game, huh? Too tough? TOO BAD! Fans voted them in and they are being disrespectful! One quarter of play is NOT too much to ask!

  33. Just let it end. Some things just run their course. There is no amount of money worth the risk of injury to these guys now. You can snap an Achilles in a “skills” competition, preseason practice or a real game. They aren’t going to risk it. They are tired and just want to rest and let their bodies heal. They can afford their own trip to Hawaii or anywhere else they want to go and chill.

  34. get rid of it, and you foolish fans who want to see full speed contact are stupid. the same owners will cut these guys if they get hurt to get out of a big contract.

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