Allegiant Stadium ahead of the 2022 Pro Bowl.

I feel like every few years, the NFL gets the idea that “the Pro Bowl cannot go on like this!” and publicly discusses revamping the annual all-star game. This year, that realization came on Tuesday, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that the “game doesn’t work,” and that the NFL’s players need to be celebrated in another way.

As for possible replacements, Rapoport posed the idea of turning it into a flag football game.

When interviewing Rapoport, Pat McAfee dropped the idea of turning it into a skills contest that included charity donations.

Despite the fact that it’s a joke as a sporting contest, the Pro Bowl still brings in eyeballs. This year’s game drew over 6.5 million viewers on ABC and ESPN, and while that’s poor compared to NFL regular season games, it’s quite a strong number compared to other sports (for example, no NHL game has hit that mark since the 2019 Stanley Cup Final).

The NFL has tried various ways to amplify the Pro Bowl over the years. The AFC vs NFC format was scrapped in 2014, with captains being chosen and divvying up teams fantasy draft style. That was scrapped after three games, and the skills contest (which was watched by less than a million people this year) was added.

In my opinion, the Pro Bowl is what it is, and this isn’t just an NFL problem – it’s a problem for MLB, the NHL, and the NBA, which have all had All-Star Game woes over the last decade. There’s really only so much leagues can do about these events to make them interesting to viewers while still somewhat resembling the sports in question. But given the physical nature of football, the issues the NFL has in optimizing the Pro Bowl are more difficult than the issues faced by the other leagues.

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.