December 6, 2022

NFL ends Pro Bowl;  Skills competitions, a science game instead

NFL ends Pro Bowl; Skills competitions, a science game instead

The Pro Bowl got a major makeover.

The NFL has canceled the full-contact All-Star Game and replaced it with a week-long skill competition and flag football game.

The new event will be renamed “Pro Bowl Games” and will feature AFC and NFC players to showcase their soccer and non-football skills in challenges over several days.

The 2023 Games will be held in Las Vegas, and the football match will be held at Allegiant Stadium on Sunday, February 5. That’s one week before the Super Bowl in Arizona.

“Maybe a different format could bring in a little bit more juice, more energy,” New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram, a three-time Pro Bowl participant, said.

Peyton Manning and his company Omaha Productions will help shape programming and promote event content throughout the week. Manning, who was selected 14 times to the Pro Bowl during his Hall of Fame career, will give his view and will also be part of the coaching staff for the flag game.

“The Pro Bowl is something we’ve been looking at for a while, and we really continue to evolve,” NFL CEO Peter O’Reilly told The Associated Press. “Having come out of last year’s game, we really made the decision based on a lot of internal conversations, getting feedback from coaches and coaches, and getting a lot of feedback from the players. We think there is a real opportunity to do something completely different here and get away from the football game. Traditional We decided the goal was to celebrate 88 of the biggest stars in the NFL in a positive, fun and competitive way.

“The very direct feedback from the players who have been in the Pro Bowl recently has been keeping the week building up, making sure you have that multi-day element. It has been hugely positive from the players as well as from the clubs.”

The Pro Bowl debuted in January 1951 in Los Angeles and stayed there for 21 seasons before the game moved to different cities from 1972 to 1980.

Hosted by Hawaii from 1980-2009, the game has had several homes in the ensuing years, including Miami, Phoenix, Orlando, and Las Vegas.

“The game was kind of ridiculous,” said Ryan Ramsick, twice Saints offensive lineman. “The guys were not there playing real football. Hopefully there will be a lot of interactions with the fans and the guys get their chance to get out there and show some skills. I can see that is a good change.”

The quality of play in the Pro Bowl has often been criticized. Players, understandably concerned about getting hurt, treat it more as an exhibition than a competition. Flag football can increase competition while avoiding potential injuries from interference, blocking and hitting.

“You definitely don’t want to get hurt,” Ingram said. “It’s an All-Star game, basically, and you want to provide a good product for the fans and yourself but at the same time, the season is over for you, basically. You don’t want to be out of season or in a contract year and get hurt in the Pro Bowl.”

The NFL has a huge interest in football. The league has partnered with FIFA to bring flag football to the World Games in July with a focus on the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

“You can take advantage of all the things you feel good about a Pro Bowl week, the skills, the helmets, the participation, and then culminate that, while maintaining the AFC-NFC structure, into something really important, which is sponsor football and that opportunity,” said O’Reilly, Vice President League Executive, Club Business and League Events: “We have the best athletes in the NFL playing this game that is about the future of our sport.” “It was an evolution, but as we moved out of Las Vegas last year we were really focused on how to reinvent and celebrate our stars Better.”

Manning has long been a defender and supporter of the Pro Bowl when the league considered drastic changes a decade ago.

“The Pro Bowl has always been a time to kick back and celebrate a game of football with his teammates, fans and family,” Manning told The Associated Press. “I am grateful that I can continue to be a part of the week as all of us at Omaha Productions are working with the NFL to reimagine the Pro Bowl games. Making Sunday’s game a flag football is great. Youth football has been so important to me, And knowing that NFL FLAG will help grow the sport, I hope that boys and girls will see themselves playing the same game as the best players in the world.”

Fan voting will still help determine the AFC and NFC team rosters. Tom Brady received the most invitations to the Pro Bowl with 15. Four players received 14 invitations, including Manning. The East-West Shrine Bowl will be held at Allegiant Stadium on Thursday, February 2nd.

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Associated Press sports writer Kenneth Maguire in London contributed to this report.

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Follow Rob Maadi on Twitter at https://twitter.com/robmaaddi

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More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL