Reports: NFL to terminate Pro Bowl, discusses alternative events
May 25, 2022
NFL’s All-Star game, the Pro Bowl, reportedly could be removed from the league’s official schedule after its 102nd edition was held in February this year.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported the possibility on May 24. Rapoport explained that the league is currently discussing ways of improving the All-Star game week, one of which is to terminate the event.
In a slightly different report by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the league reportedly has spoken to teams and players to discuss other alternatives to Pro Bowl. Adding to the NFL reaching out was Commissioner Roger Goodell who had confirmed that the traditional tackle game will be scrapped from the game.
‘The game itself doesn't work,’ says Goodell
The Pro Bowl has been running in the NFL for quite a long time. The first edition of the event was first played in 1951 and similar to any other sporting event, the NFL as the event officials have imposed a huge number of changes, namely changes in roster format, time, and location, as well as the All-Star celebration itself leading to the main regular-season’s event, the Super Bowl.
Goodell said this week on Tuesday via ESPN that the game just did not work. The commissioner was aware that while ratings were not at an all-time low, star players backing out from the event could lead to problematic circumstances.
"I think the conclusion (of discussions) was that the game itself doesn't work," Goodell said. "And we need to find another way to celebrate our players."
The 63-year-old further added that the league deemed Pro Bowl was ineffective after discussing the matters with NFL’s union counterpart. The commissioner also had spent a fair amount of time speaking with players and his conclusion are rather similar.
The most recent edition of the Pro Bowl was conducted this year in February, just a week prior to the Super Bowl. Many had argued that the players’ celebration event itself was not exciting. Not only this year but even a few years back, many star players refrained to play for fear of injury. Other select star players, however, got their schedules packed to prepare for the Super Bowl.
NFL enthusiasts deemed that conducting the All-Star event ahead of the Super Bowl is in itself a hazardous thing to do. Since players would easily prioritize the Super Bowl over the Pro Bowl easily, they have played for over 18 weeks of the regular season leading to the finale.
The main problem which could lead to the termination of the Pro Bowl surprisingly was not low streaming ratings of the event. In fact, according to Yahoo Sports, the Pro Bowl event in February this year attracted 6.69 million viewers.
However, 2022’s Pro Bowl had the lowest viewership compared to 2006. Additionally, the amount dropped by 17 percent since 2019. Not only in the NFL, the Pro Bowl’s counterpart in both NBA and MLB also faced a similar trend of viewership decline rate, as per Yahoo Sports.
Whether the league would terminate Pro Bowl or not, Goodell reassured NFL enthusiasts that the main agenda, whatever the alternatives might be remains the same, that is to celebrate NFL’s professional players.
“(The goal is) to celebrate that these are our Pro Bowl players, the best players in our league, and give them an opportunity to celebrate that with our fans," Goodell added.
"We've talked about some of the events around the Pro Bowl are really, extremely popular, whether the quarterback challenge or some of the other events. So those are some of the things we will continue to discuss.”