The NFL is replacing the Pro Bowl with week-long skill games and a flag football game, The Associated Press has learned.
The new event replaces the full-contact showcase that began in 1951. It will be renamed “The Pro Bowl Games” and AFC and NFC players will demonstrate their soccer and non-football skills in challenges over several days. The 2023 Games will be held in Las Vegas and the flag football game will be held at Allegiant Stadium on February 5.
Peyton Manning and his company Omaha Productions will help shape the programming and promote the content of the event throughout the week. Manning, a 14-time Pro Bowl pick during his Hall of Fame career, will provide his perspective and will also serve on the Flag Game coaching staff.
“The Pro Bowl is something we’ve been looking at for a while, and we’re really continuing to evolve,” NFL chief executive Peter O’Reilly told The Associated Press. “When we came out of last year’s game, we really made the decision based on a lot of internal conversations, feedback from GMs and coaches, a lot of feedback from players. We think there’s a real opportunity to do something completely different here and move We’ve decided that the goal is to celebrate 88 of the biggest stars in the NFL in a really positive, fun, yet competitive way.
“The feedback from guys who had been to the Pro Bowl recently was to keep the build of the week, to make sure you have that multi-day element. It’s been overwhelmingly positive from players and clubs alike.”
The Pro Bowl debuted in Los Angeles in January 1951 and remained there for 21 seasons before moving the game to several cities from 1972 to 1980. Hawaii was hosted from 1980 to 2009, and the game has had several homes in the years since, including Miami, Phoenix, Orlando, and Las Vegas.
The quality of play in the Pro Bowl has often been criticized. Players, understandably concerned about getting hurt, treat it more like an exhibition than a competition. A flag football game could increase competition and prevent possible injuries from tackling, blocking and hitting.
The NFL has a great interest in flag football. The league partnered with the International Federation of American Football to bring flag football to the World Games in July ahead of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.
“You take advantage of all the things that feel great about Pro Bowl week, the skills, the helmets off, the involvement and culminate that, while keeping the AFC-NFC construction, into something that really matters, which is flag football. and that opportunity to have the best athletes in the NFL playing this game that is so much about the future of our sport,” said O’Reilly, executive vice president of league, club operations and league events. “It’s been an evolution, but when we came out of Las Vegas last year, we really focused on how to better invent and celebrate our all-stars.”
The league plans to announce the new format on Monday.
“The Pro Bowl has always been a time to step back and celebrate the game of football with teammates, fans and family,” Manning told the AP. “I’m grateful to be able to continue to be a part of the week as all of us at Omaha Productions are working with the NFL to reshape the Pro Bowl Games. It’s great to make Sunday’s game a football game. been hugely important to me, and knowing that NFL FLAG will help this sport grow, I hope boys and girls can 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 has the most invites to the Pro Bowl with 15. Four players received 14 invites, including Manning. The East-West Shrine Bowl will be held at Allegiant Stadium on February 2.
In 1999, patriotic rookie Robert Edwards suffered a knee injury and cut an artery in his left leg while playing an NFL-approved beach flag football game during the week of the Pro Bowl. He missed the entire 1999 and 2000 seasons while rehabilitating the knee.