The NFL Pro Bowl — the pro football league’s annual all-star game pitting the best from the AFC and NFC — will transition into but one part of “The Pro Bowl Games” starting in 2023.
Paramount to that change-up, the game played at the end of Pro Bowl week will now, officially, be a flag football contest involving no proper tackling.
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That first such game will be played Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023. (In this year’s Pro Bowl match-up, the AFC defeated the NFC 41-35.) Since 2014, ESPN and/or ABC have aired the annual event.
The NFL said that the flag football contest will be supplemented during Pro Bowl week by the addition of “new challenges intended to showcase Pro Bowlers’ football and non-football skills in unique competitions.”
The goal, the league said, is “to create a fresh take on what had become quite stale.” The NFL also conceded that the usual Pro Bowl game, held the week before the Super Bowl, brought “a risk of injury, and the top athletes in today’s game are understandably unwilling to give it their all in a game that matters for nothing but, well, bragging rights.”
The hope is that the flag football match-up will “ignite the flame of competition with a lower-risk, but still highly entertaining new format.”
As Peter O’Reilly, NFL EVP of club business and league events, explained in a statement, “We’ve received invaluable feedback from players, teams and fans about reimagining the Pro Bowl, and as a result, we’re thrilled to use The Pro Bowl Games as a platform to spotlight Flag football as an integral part of the sport’s future while also introducing fun, new forms of competition and entertainment that will bring our players, their families and fans closer than ever before.
“Building on the success of the 2022 Pro Bowl and 2022 Draft, as well as our strong partnership with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and Las Vegas Raiders,” he continued, “we look forward to bringing The 2023 Pro Bowl Games to the capital of world-class sports and entertainment.”
Will this change to the NFL Pro Bowl game make you any more or less inclined to watch?