The Pro Bowl happens again on Sunday, a non-football football game that essentially amounts to two-hand touch in pads. After the non-game game, the NFL will have to decide whether to keep it in Orlando for yet another year.
As explained by Jabari Young of CNBC.com, the NFL’s annual option to stay in Orlando will be considered in light of the possibility of moving the game to new stadiums in Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
“It’s been a great four years [in Orlando],” NFL executive vice president of events and club business development Peter O’Reilly told Young. “From our perspective, it’s looking at what are the other options.”
The league seemingly has abandoned any effort to make the game meaningful and competitive, wisely allowing players to err on the side of safety. The issue of competitiveness evaporated after Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert suffered an ankle injury in the Pro Bowl four years ago. The fact that people still attend the game and watch it on TV allow the NFL to drop the pretense and tolerate the game not being like any other game.
“It’s not an AFC or NFC championship game or a Super Bowl,” O’Reilly told Young. “Pro Bowl is different. It’s about access, it’s about fun and a lot of different things that you experience as a fan going to that game that you’re not experiencing at a regular-season game.”
That’s the best way to spin the fact that the players aren’t trying as hard as they otherwise would. And they shouldn’t.
Next year, those players who don’t try as hard as they otherwise would could be doing it in Las Vegas or L.A. instead of Orlando, as the long-time Hawaiian staple could once again be on the move.