Goodell: NFL may eliminate Pro Bowl game
It might, according to league Commissioner Roger Goodell, who discussed the Pro Bowl’s possible demise among other topics during SiriusXM NFL Radio’s “Town Hall” with Michael Strahan on Monday night.
During the Town Hall appearance, Goodell called last year’s 59-41 AFC win, one that more closely resembled a video game than a professional exhibition, an “embarrassing” game, and said that league brass was still weighing whether or not to scrap the post-season exhibition entirely.
“If we cannot accomplish that kind of standard (of high play), I am inclined to not play it," Goodell said. "It is really tough to force competition, and after a long season, to ask those guys to go out and play at the same level they played is really tough."
The league still would select a Pro Bowl team through voting by players, coaches and fans, because it is an honor, but "just not play the game," he said.
Over the years, the Pro Bowl has been victimized by player ennui, with many stars opting to skip the game over the last decade, often for dubious reasons. However, many feel that the league has also had a hand in the perceived decline of the Pro Bowl; the game’s restricted rules, which include bans on blitzing and rushing special teams attempts, have been cited as hindrances, and recent edicts that moved the game up two weeks and made Super Bowl-bound players ineligible have hurt both star power and fan reception.
A combination of two of those factors clashing led to a rather infamous moment in 2010, as all three of the AFC’s selected quarterbacks (and their first alternate) bowed out either due to injury or ineligibility and fifth alternate David Garrard ended up in the game – meaning that of the 16 teams in the conference, eight of them were “represented” by Pro Bowl quarterbacks.
The players lobbied to keep the Pro Bowl alive in 2013 by promising to upgrade their performance, and what could be the “final” game will take place on January 27 in Honolulu.
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES