Reports surfaced earlier on Tuesday that confirmed NFL owners were discussing either making changes to the Pro Bowl or replacing the game with an alternative such as a flag football contest or some sort of virtual experience.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell spoke later in the day and heavily suggested this year’s Pro Bowl was the last of its kind under the current format.
“I think the conclusion was that the game itself, doesn’t work,” Goodell explained, according to Nick Shook of the league’s website. “And that we needed to find a different way to celebrate our players. Celebrate the fact that, these being our Pro Bowler players, the best players in our league, and give them an opportunity to celebrate that with our fans. We talked an awful lot about some of the events around the Pro Bowl are really extremely popular, whether it’s the quarterback challenge or some of the other events, so those are things that we’ll probably build on.”
Per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN and Pro-Football-Reference, professional football All-Star games go as far back as 1938. However, the Pro Bowl as it exists today attracts widespread criticism each winter because players either choose not to participate or do so while focusing on avoiding injuries instead of trying to win what is largely a meaningless exhibition.
Fowler added that Goodell admitted discussions with NFL Players Association members allowed him to realize continuing what’s become half-contact Pro Bowl games makes little sense outside of attracting millions of television viewers.