MMQB: Pro Bowl 'a Little Embarrassing for' NFL; Game Could Be Canceled in 2023

Erin WalshMay 30, 2022

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - FEBRUARY 06:  AFC players Najee Harris #22 of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Justin Herbert #10 and Rashawn Slater #70 of the Los Angeles Chargers walk off the field at halftime of the 2022 NFL Pro Bowl against the NFC at Allegiant Stadium on February 06, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The AFC defeated the NFC 41-35.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The future of the NFL's annual Pro Bowl game is in serious doubt.

Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated reports the Pro Bowl has "become a little embarrassing for the league," and it may not be played following the coming season. 

"The proposed changes to the Pro Bowl could come soon. And as in soon, I mean soon enough to cancel the 2023 game," Breer wrote. "The sense I got from folks at the league meeting is that, really, there’s no reason to keep going forward with an event that clearly falls short of the NFL standard, and has more recently become a little embarrassing for the league."

Breer added: "And as for replacing it, the word that keeps coming up is 'celebration' … as in the league wants it to be a 'celebration' of its best players."

The news comes after NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that the NFL is looking at ways to improve the Pro Bowl. He noted a flag football game is a possible alternative, though canceling the game entirely is also on the table. 

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell later confirmed that the league is discussing alternatives and is considering turning the yearly event "into a celebration of players rather than playing an actual game," per ESPN's Jeremy Fowler

Goodell added that the league decided the Pro Bowl needed some changes after talking with the NFLPA and several players. 

"I think the conclusion was that the game itself, doesn't work. And that we needed to find a different way to celebrate our players. Celebrate the fact that, these being our Pro Bowler players, the best players in our league, and give them an opportunity to celebrate that with our fans. We talked an awful lot about some of the events around the Pro Bowl are really extremely popular, whether it's the quarterback challenge or some of the other events, so those are things that we'll probably build on."

The Pro Bowl has become much less intense over the past several years, with really no tackling taking place. A number of star players have even opted out of participating in the event to avoid unnecessary injuries. 

If the NFL cancels the Pro Bowl entirely, it'll hopefully come up with something much better to replace it.