Will Pro Bowl players be interested in participating in the Pro Bowl replacement?

2013 Pro Bowl
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Nine years ago, Peyton Manning urged Pro Bowl players to play the Pro Bowl with enough gusto to keep the league from pulling the plug on the game. Now that the league has Kevorkian’d the Pro Bowl, it has turned to Peyton’s production company to come up with a replacement that players and fans will choose to embrace.

But first, the players.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement, at Article 38, Section 6(b), gives the league the sole ability to cancel the Pro Bowl in any given year, and to replace it with something else. However, the CBA is clear on one key point: “Participation by a player in such a replacement event shall be voluntary.” (As to the Pro Bowl game itself, the CBA requires the NFL Players Association to “actively cooperate with the NFL to ensure participation in the game and prompt reporting by players selected.”)

In other words, any, some, or all Pro Bowlers can choose without pressure or consequence or obligation to say “no thanks” to the post-Pro Bowl Pro Bowl.

On Monday night’s ManningCast, Peyton said, via Sports Business Daily, that “all ideas are on the table” for the replacement activities that will culminate in a flag-football game.

“We’re going to make it fun,” Peyton said. “We might have some beer chugging contests, hot dog eating by offensive linemen. We’ll take suggestions.”

The Pro Bowl had become an embarrassment in recent years, but for good reason. It made no sense for players who were healthy enough to play in one more game to play so hard that they risked an injury that they’d spend the offseason rehabbing. For looming free agents, an injury would derail a payday.

The league for years was willing to keep staging what had become two-hand-touch in full pads, because people kept watching it. The question now becomes whether anyone will watch whatever Peyton cooks up, along with their favorite players playing flag football to cap the week.

Whether fan will watch hinges on whether players will show up. And that will be the first challenge for the league. If participation is truly voluntary, why do anything that entails any amount of physical risk?

And if anyone thinks that flag football entails no physical risk, it would be wise to Google the name “Robert Edwards.”

52 responses to “Will Pro Bowl players be interested in participating in the Pro Bowl replacement?

  1. I may be in the minority but I think is one of the best decisions the NFL has made in some time. The pro bowl game essentially was a flag football game. At least now maybe they will try in the flag game. I also love the idea of a skills competition. Let’s see who the fastest is. Let’s see who can throw the furthest and most accurate. I may actually watch for the first time in years.

  2. If injury prevention is the goal then flag football is the worst idea. Torn ACL’s, torn MCL’s torn hamstrings, etc, etc, as these prideful athletes will now be twisting their runs in all manner to avoid tackles.

  3. The only injury of note that I can recall from the pro bowl is robert edwards and it happened DURING FLAG FOOTBALL.

  4. The LAST element I wish to watch is beer chugging and hot dog eating contests.

    Unbelievable ideas.


  5. Tear an ACL in a flag football game. Hell yes they’ll play. Just like Robert Edwards on the sand. I bet they’ll be down to the 12th alternate. Makes everyone a Pro Bowler👍

  6. If they make it worth their time. First talk to them about what they would like to see. Give them some good posh events to bring their dates to and set them up in a 5 star hotel where the family can be pampered and have a great time. You are a billion dollar enterprise owned by people who have connections. If you give them a week of exquisite pampering at the end of the year I bet the turnout will be high and they will do your dancing bear games for the public.

  7. The NFL Pro Bowl should have moved to a flag football game long ago. That finally gives players we know (no one knows who linemen are) a chance to show off their talent like the other pro leagues’ all star games do. What’s more, I’ll start watching it again.

  8. Just give them all certificates to the first team selections. Eliminate alternates. Give the pro bowl selections checks. End it.

  9. We already know that fans have ZERO interest in watching. When you’ve reached the point where you’re asking if the players will even participate, I think it’s time to let the Pro Bowl fade out quietly into the night. It was glorious back in the 60’s: I remember John Unitas coming in and leading an electric comeback drive. But now no one cares except the NFL front office because they can’t stand the thought of one week going by without the league being in the news cycle. They should be careful: it’s not true that any publicity is good publicity.

  10. The moment a player tears an ACL or Achilles, which is certainly possible this will be done as well. Just keep in low risk skills competitions..

  11. First thing I thought of when I heard this was Edwards. At least maybe they’ll be prudent enough to not play the game on the beach.

  12. Tie-in a charitable component/different beneficiary to the game and include former players and/or celebrities as well. The game needs to be fun and entertaining far more than it needs to be competitive……

  13. Maybe Eli can put on a wig and try out for the Flag football game. I’m sure it will look authentic.

  14. Peyton was always big on the pro-bowl as he and his teams were rarely still preparing for the SB

  15. Nobody showed up for the Pro Bowl as it was previously constructed. That’s how someone like Mitchell Trubiskey gets the nod. The game sucked too. I believe players will participate in the modified presentation. Here’s why… modern players are trying to build their own brand. I believe they would welcome the opportunity to take off the helmet and present themselves in a way that demonstrates versatility, whether that’s a chess tournament or a 40 yard dash against Usain Bolt. Players used to do battle of the stars, if needed, they can take out an insurance policy for a day.

  16. I’ll tell you the NHL all star game is even worse by the violent nature of the game only baseball and basketball can have good all star games due to there finesse but even the NBA’S GAME IS A JOKE.

  17. Let’s be honest, nobody is going to watch a flag football game no matter who is playing in it.

    This is just a long, painful, path to eliminating the thing altogether. Until it’s gone we will be treated to an NFL player circus each February. *sigh*

  18. Plenty of players didn’t show up before and the ones that did were there for the free paid vacation for their families.

    Do you think anyone actually went to the probowl because they wanted to play another game of football?

  19. Just pay them good money and a lot will participate. I’ll be tuned in to see what this looks like. I actually really miss all the competitions they used to have back in the day. And watching elite players participate back then too.

  20. I would absolutely tune in to watch foot races, team relay races, beer chugging (Brady is pretty amazing at that if he can still put beer in his body), some weight lifting competitionvbut maybe like strongman style (pulling a truck or something), some ninja courses, a cornhole tourney, flag football (not on the sand!). Hit me up Peyton, I’ve got some ideas.

  21. People saying they wouldn’t watch are probably the same people saying football on Amazon wouldn’t work. People WOULD watch this. Have y’all not learned anything? NFL is a content monster..people will tune in and this would be an improvement. I’d just never do it if I was a player..too many risks.

  22. Did I hear someone say “build their own brand”? Then JuJu SS will definitely take the offer as the fifth WR replacement.

  23. If they want players to show up, move the game back to Hawaii.
    The game was always a joke, but at least pro bowlers wanted to show up for the excellent vacation spot that is Honolulu rather than Orlando.

  24. When you have people thinking a total bust like the last place patriot’s mac jones is a “Pro Bowler” because 10 AFC QBs turned it down you know the whole thing is a joke.

  25. Very few people want to see flag or touch football. Let’s just televise more awards: Craziest contract/trade demand. Most embarrassing arrest/lawsuit/indictment. Least credible statement from a player’s defense attorney. Most embarrassing social media post. Worst investment of a signing bonus. Worst broadcasters (Play-by-play, Color commentary, and studio analysis). Silliest commercial endorsement (Tough to top Sleep Number having Dak Prescott sleep in the ‘Tron’ universe).

  26. I may be in the minority, but I think pro athletes can play flag football without seriously injuring themselves.
    Robert Edwards was a freaky, isolated incident.
    It’s funny how people will call these guys “soft” while thinking they can’t enjoy some light physical activity without getting hurt.

  27. Put it back in Hawaii. I mean, I still won’t watch it, or whatever they come up for 2023, but put it back in Hawaii. Las Vegas can keep the draft.

  28. This is as foolish as the Pro Bowl. Why do players want to participate in such a waste of time? Why would owners be in favor of this? It’s just another risk for a player to get injured in something so irrelevant. Just ask Robert Edwards how stuck like this works out.

  29. The only thing worse than flag football would be for the NFL to continue to name alternate Pro Bowl players for no shows.It wouldn’t surprise me if they did.

  30. Whatever the event becomes, sans the ridiculous hot dog eating or beer chugging ideas, bring it back to Aloha Stadium in Hawaii. That will help get the players there. Everywhere else in terms of location is just a “meh…”

  31. Just keep it skills, the flag football game sounds fun, but most of these guys are either beat up or haven’t practiced in weeks.

  32. If they are not going to be playing “real” football, you need to have more people (stars) there to draw eyeballs. How about some pro-am style events? I would watch Brady and Kayne play Josh Allen and Leo Dicaprio in Pickleball. Pair a pro and an amateur in the skills competition or pair the pros with retired players. Give Uncle Rico a football and see if he really can yeet that thing over a mountain. If it isn’t current football players playing football then lets get crazy!

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