NFL is discussing ways to “improve” the Pro Bowl, including possibly eliminating it

NFL Pro Bowl
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From time to time, the NFL develops angst and frustration over the inherently non-competitive Pro Bowl.

The game stinks. It should stink. It should not be full-contact football, with Sean Taylor blowing up Brian Moorman while the Bills punter ran a fake. (That said, it was awesome.) Players who are healthy in early February need to stay that way. They don’t need to undermine their shot at free agency by getting injured. They don’t need to be rehabbing injuries in the offseason.

But the game, even as two-hand touch in full pads, generates sufficient ratings to justify continuing it. The question becomes whether there’s an alternative that would do as well, or close to it.

Via Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, the league (whose owners are meeting in Atlanta) is “discussing the Pro Bowl and ways to improve it,” including the possibility of getting rid of it. That day could instead be used to “showcase the players in it.”

They can talk about it all they want. The Commissioner at one point huffed and puffed and threatened to blow the Pro Bowl’s house down. In recent years, the complaining has stopped. It stopped because it’s impossible to reconcile player health and safety with expecting them to beat the crap out of each other in an exhibition game.

If the league gets rid of the Pro Bowl game, it needs to replace it with something else that will be as profitable. Unless the league is willing to give up the revenue it generates in exchange for avoiding a day or two of people complaining about the Pro Bowl being the joke that it should be, because players should not be blocking and tackling and hitting that late in the season.

For more on the Pro Bowl, including some quotes from Brian Moorman about the hit he took from Sean Taylor and more, check out (you guessed it) Playmakers.

63 responses to “NFL is discussing ways to “improve” the Pro Bowl, including possibly eliminating it

  1. Whatever the NFL does, I’d just like to see the actual “Pro Bowl” designation returned to applying to those who are originally chosen for the team, without any replacements. It’s a useful label for a player to receive and affects perception and compensation, and the practice of reaching down the well as players pull out of the game for whatever reason is silly and waters the award down. Why the league never bothered to differentiate between “original” Pro Bowlers and “fill in” ones is beyond me, but better late than never!

  2. Get rid of the Pro Bowl. Its ridiculous. Have players rewarded some how for being selected and an “All Star” or something. Do a skills competition. Something fun and entertaining that can show off their athleticism in some other way.

  3. I still think they should replace the Pro Bowl with the Senior Bowl & use that game week to recognize the Pro Bowlers. The college guys would love having them there and NFL’ers would enjoy being a part of that week.
    Recognizing them at the game would also increase fan attendance

  4. The WWF had to officially admit that it was fake and they changed the name to the WWE. People have not stopped watching. The Pro Bowl has become more and more fake and more and more of a “joke.” The NFL should make the game unapologetically fake, and with the help of pros who script these types of things, and the imagination of the Pro Bowlers themselves, play a fake game of football. The injury risk would all but disappear, and the $$$$ would be everywhere.

  5. Improve it by eliminating it. Dont wait for a career ending injury to force the issue.

  6. Eliminate the game and make it a skills contest the whole weekend. Throw in there some Madden Video game tourny’s. No one wants to see some lame game.

  7. Thank you, I could not agree more with you.

    I have it on my TV for all of one or two series then either turn it off and clean the house or leave it on as background noise.

    What I don’t do is complain about it, which is stupid imho.

  8. Move it to after the SB, increase the financial compensation for the players and award the team who sends the most representatives (who actually participate) with an extra inter-conference home game.

  9. They should eliminate it. Putting 22 super stars on the field that have never played together is just a bad idea.

  10. Get Rid of this game, I would like to see the two losers of the championship game play a week before the superbowl. Have no interest in the pro bowl what so ever

  11. If you’re keeping the game move it back to Hawaii and put it after the Super Bowl again not before. You’ll also get less opting out since the Super Bowl will be over.

    The old Pro Bowl was always a great way to see all our favorite players around the league one last time before next season.

  12. Just get rid of the whole thing. There is no All-Pro game and that is a much higher honor. Instead, the All-Pros and their families get an all expenses paid trip to Hawaii and they can all get together and tell great stories about the games they played that year.

  13. I’m surprised they don’t make a big event out of announcing the All-Pro Teams. Maybe they could do something with that. The best thing they could do would be to eliminate the Pro Bowl

  14. The Pro Bowl is almost as intolerable as putting a store bought rub on your Wagyu beef. Currently there is promise there but, poor execution keeps it barely ingestible. They should do it game show style or something like the battle of the network stars type of approach. It just doesn’t work as a Pro Football game.

  15. I don’t understand how it generates respectable ratings. I know dozens of hardcore NFL fans and not a single one watches (nor pay any attention to) to Pro Bowl.

  16. I don’t buy the injury prevention argument. You can make that same argument for regular seasons games when teams have already been eliminated from playoff contention still play their starters. A required to play meaningless game is a required to play meaningless game, whether that requirement is in December or February.

  17. Practice squad, “Futures game,” would be more competitive even if it doesn’t have the star appeal.

  18. Make it into a video game. Take all the selected players…raise all of their Madden ratings to 100…have the two best Madden NFL players in the country control the teams, Maybe have them represent charities, with a large amount of money going to the winner and a smaller amount to the loser.
    For the lead up to the game, have a national competition…a playoff…to choose the team controllers.

  19. Do something like a skills contest where points are accumulated by the teams. You still have AFC vs NFC but in a way that players aren’t risking injury. Making it worth going to the players by giving them an incentive to show up and win. Also make it after the superbowl so all the players voted in have a chance to participate.

  20. If you want to reward the players move it back to Hawaii fully paid by the NFL for players and their families and do a battle of the network stars type of competition.

  21. Have the pro players just do the skills challenges for money and make the game a legends vs free agents all star game. Problem solved plus clearly people would watch the TO’s and Manziels of the world play even if it’s badly vs recent retirees.

  22. Well it seems like the most obvious choice would be to turn it into something that the fans care about, but the league will always choose $$$ over fans. The end.

  23. When they had “Madden” video game Pro Bowl, it was literally more exciting, and that says a LOT

  24. You could pay me, provide food & bev and I’d still have no interest in attending…and have less of an interest in watching on tv. The risk of this game is much higher than any reward; time for the circular file.

  25. Move it to Hawaii the week after the Superbowl like it was and maybe guys will actually want to play in it. Poor Goodell will just have to live with that one week without football before the Superbowl.

  26. And this is exactly what’s wrong with America right now. Look at all the comments, “I don’t like the Pro Bowl, so it needs to be ELIMINATED!!”

    Ignoring the fact that ratings are 10 million annually, no one is FORCING you to watch something you don’t like. For the rest of us, we kind of like a casual scrimmage with all the stars and is just FUN.

  27. For those of you who have been loyal fans from the early 90s, we know this has been an ongoing, lip service-esque issue the NFL talks about all the time.

    For younger fans, don’t get excited. Just know, in the year 2040, a headline will come out, “NFL looking at ways to improve Pro Bowl, and may even eliminate it” and you will say to the younger fans, “lol.”

  28. Now they’re getting it! Eliminate the Hall of Fame game too while you’re at it, people just show up for the induction ceremony.

  29. People have proven they will consume anything football. Instead of the game just announce the pro bowlers NFL draft style. Let anyone come who thinks they might be on the team, some players will be there who don’t make it, others will be mad someone else got more votes than they did, it would have lots of drama. Then super bowl participants can still be named to the team but no game is played.

  30. Eliminate the pro bowl game, add an 18th regular season game to keep profits rolling in and this would make the game meaningful.

  31. I don’t care about what changes they make or what happens to the pro bowl because I stopped watching it years ago. The pro bowl used to be a curiosity but now it’s just a joke. The NFL should bring back the playoff bowl but with a twist. Rather than the losers of the conference championships playing, the two worst teams should play and the winner gets the number one overall draft pick. This will help with the perceived tanking problem and would make for a more exciting game since there are some stakes at play.

  32. Send them all to Hawaii and let them party with cameras rolling. That’s what we need.

  33. Who is still watching this game? If you’re saying how awful it is but you’re still watching it every year, you’re the reason they won’t eliminate it.

  34. Remember the time Tim Tebow demonstrated Pro Bowl-caliber blocking during his TE tryout?

  35. Skills competition with a twist. Lineman kicking field goals, QBs fielding punts and LB doing the passing drills.

  36. I still think they should replace the Pro Bowl with the Senior Bowl & use that game week to recognize the Pro Bowlers. The college guys would love having them there and NFL’ers would enjoy being a part of that week.
    Recognizing them at the game would also increase fan attendance
    ————————————————————————————————

    Good idea, but so many college players skip their bowls games now (that they get paid for in the form of scholarships etc,) many would probably not play in that game either.

  37. akira0724 says:
    May 24, 2022 at 1:17 pm
    And this is exactly what’s wrong with America right now. Look at all the comments, “I don’t like the Pro Bowl, so it needs to be ELIMINATED!!”

    Ignoring the fact that ratings are 10 million annually, no one is FORCING you to watch something you don’t like. For the rest of us, we kind of like a casual scrimmage with all the stars and is just FUN.
    ________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    And this is exactly what’s wrong with America right now. Look at your comment, “I like the Pro Bowl, So it should stay!!”

    Ignoring the fact that the star players risk injury for nothing, simply so you can be entertained while sitting at home on your sofa. The players should be FORCED to play in it, just for FUN.

  38. Surely someone else has suggested this? Have a Pro Bowl vote. Pro Bowlers play Electric Football against each other.

  39. Eliminating it makes way too much sense, but remember that the NFL will have to come up with a new way of making up the revenue loss. God only knows what that will be.

  40. give hawaii a regular season game instead because the players are only going to give their all if its a real, meaningful game.

    maybe they could have it on the opening weekend of the season every year, between the two teams that came 3rd and 4th – the ones that lost the championship games

  41. Eliminate it. Give out certificates and coupons for a free Happy Meal and only identify the starting team. That way those who are afraid of injuries don’t have to play and the others who aren’t worth spit, don’t get to say they went to the pro bowl as a fifth removed cousin of the fifth tier athlete.

  42. My suggestions:
    1. Continue to conduct the process to name each conference’s All-Pro team. Networks and sponsors could create and broadcast “The NFL All-Pro Announcement” event; the process needs to continue for players because of contract incentives/bonuses.

    2. Eliminate both the actual the game itself and also any/all contrived activities. Most players wouldn’t participate/attend anyway; fans would not likely tune in to watch skills contests/video gaming; networks and sponsors would not likely commit staff, resources, and money to broadcast such activities.

    3. Honor the all pro team by including them as part of the festivities of the respective conference championship game: All expenses paid weekend for the player and family; awards dinner; on-field presentation/announcement during half-time.

  43. My vote is for a lottery (somewhat solves the tanking problem to do a NHL style lottery) to choose two of the 10 worse teams to play for the number 1 pick. They can create another show for the lottery (more money). To really mess it up make the coaches of the two losing conference championship games coach those two loser teams.

  44. Replace it with a golf tournament. Guys might actually show up instead of claiming injury. They broadcast 4 QBs playing golf so why not? Let’s see who’s got game. Have a long drive competition, too.

  45. The NFL knew the Pro Bowl was garbage when NBC, CBS and FOX didn’t even want to broadcast it anymore. The Pro Bowl is a whole joke and the NFL needs to stop wasting people’s time and money with this embarrassment of pro football.

  46. juddgr says:
    “I would like to see the two losers of the championship game play a week before the superbowl.”

    In the Olympics, that would be like competing for the bronze medal.

  47. Yeah let’s have a pro bowl where representatives from the two best teams don’t participate because they are playing in the game that really counts. As for people dropping out if they have it and you don’t play – you don’t get your Pro Bowl bonus.

  48. The Pro Bowl should’ve been euthanized years ago. Some player is going to end up on IR for a season due to a non-contact injury (ACL tear, etc.). 2022 Pro Bowl averaged a 3.5 rating/6.7 million viewers spread over ABC, ESPN, and DisneyXD, far below regular season average (17.1 million viewers). Terminating the Pro Bowl wouldn’t be a significant blow to either the league or its broadcast/streaming partners.

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