When the Pro Bowl first originated in 1939, the game was played in Los Angeles' Wrigley Field and consisted of members of the NFL and the Los Angeles Bulldogs, a team in the second American Football League.
It was played in Los Angeles until 1940, then New York and Philadelphia the next two seasons. The next game would not be held until 1951.
In 1980, the game found a home at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii, a venue which it stayed in until 2010 when the game was moved to Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Fla.
The game felt different in Miami. Players, as well as fans, were simply not as excited about the game. It was held on the weekend before the Super Bowl, the first time ever that the Pro Bowl was held before the Super Bowl.
Players from the teams in the Super Bowl were not permitted to play due to injury concerns, which made sense. Broadcaster Al Michaels was not a fan of the move. He stated that if the NFL thought playing the Pro Bowl before the Super Bowl would add to the buzz, it wouldn't, and that it was a mistake.
After hearing all of the backlash from the game being moved to Miami, the NFL moved it back to Hawaii in 2011. Although still a week before the Super Bowl, the lively atmosphere returned in Hawaii.
With no blitzing allowed, and no shifting by the offense, the Pro Bowl in Hawaii is a tradition dating back 30 years. Unlike the MLB, NBA or NHL all-star games, the Pro Bowl is the only game held at the end of the season. It was not made to be moved around; the players see the trip to Hawaii as a reward for a standout season.
Just ask Roddy White, the wide receiver of the Atlanta Falcons who took all of the other wide receivers on Atlanta to Hawaii with him as a reward, even though they did not make the Pro Bowl.
Both players and fans are happy that the Pro Bowl has returned home. Everything about the game is relaxed as it should be. Bill Belichick in a Hawaiian shirt? Yes, please. Welcome home.