The NFL tried to add a lot of words in its announcement to soften the real news: The Pro Bowl has been canceled this season.
A lot of things are going by the wayside during the COVID-19 outbreak, and the Pro Bowl is one of them.
In an announcement of a “reimagined” 2021 Pro Bowl on its web site, the fourth paragraph gets to the point: “Additionally, the league will work closely with the NFLPA and other partners, to create a variety of engaging activities to replace the Pro Bowl game this season.”
The announcement is vague. It’s unclear what the league will do to comprise “a variety of engaging activities.” But the Pro Bowl game itself is taking a year off.
Pro Bowl is scheduled to return next season
The league tried to proactively answer one question in its announcement: The Pro Bowl hasn’t been eliminated altogether.
The league made sure to note that the 2022 Pro Bowl will be in Las Vegas. That indicates the game, which has been criticized from all angles over the past few years, isn’t going away permanently.
What will take its place this season? That’s unclear.
“This virtual recognition of the season's finest players will provide fans the opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of their favorite stars,” the NFL said.
That doesn’t tell us much. But the NFL made sure to include one sentence that didn’t really fit a Pro Bowl announcement, but it important nonetheless: “The NFL and NFLPA's intention is to play a full regular and postseason schedule, culminating at the Super Bowl.”
Pro Bowl rosters will still be announced
The good news for players with Pro Bowl incentives in their contract is the teams will still be announced as usual in December. Those players just won’t be playing a game.
The league has tried different things to revive the Pro Bowl, including moving it to Orlando and then announcing Las Vegas would host the game. The problem is it’s hard to expect players in a violent sport to play an all-star exhibition at 100 percent effort. Nobody wants to get seriously injured in a game that doesn’t count.
Whatever the league has in mind to replace the Pro Bowl, maybe they’ll stumble on some new ideas to help the Pro Bowl reclaim its relevance to some extent. Maybe next year’s Pro Bowl in Las Vegas will look a lot different than we’re used to, as well.
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