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AP: NFL Pro Bowl Changes to Skills Events, Flag Game with Peyton Manning Overseeing

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 26, 2022

LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 06: Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) drops back to pass during the NFL Pro Bowl presented by Verizon on February 6, 2022 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Speer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Jeff Speer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NFL Pro Bowl as we knew it is no more.

According to Rob Maaddi of the Associated Press, the NFL will replace its All-Star game with a weeklong skills competitions and a flag football game, which will be known as "The Pro Bowl Games."

"We think there's a real opportunity to do something wholly different here and move away from the traditional tackle football game," NFL executive Peter Oโ€™Reilly told Maaddi. "We decided the goal is to celebrate 88 of the biggest stars in the NFL in a really positive, fun, yet competitive way."

Peyton Manning will have a significant role in the new format, coaching the flag football game while providing perspective on activities. His Omaha Productions company will also help shape programming and promote the events.

"The Pro Bowl has always been a time to step back and celebrate the game of football with teammates, fans and family," Manning said. "I'm thankful I can continue to be part of the week as all of us at Omaha Productions work with the NFL to reimagine The Pro Bowl Games. Making Sundayโ€™s game a flag football game is great to see."

The Pro Bowl debuted in 1951 and has remained a tackle football game in the decades since, although interest has seemingly waned both among fans and players.

Last year's Pro Bowl saw its lowest ratings since 2006 with 6.7 million viewers, per Austin Karp of Sports Business Journal.

It has also become common for players to turn down invitations because of injuries or other reasons. Last year's roster featured 11 quarterbacks after five chose not to attend, not even including Super Bowl participants.

"I think the conclusion [of discussions] was that the game itself doesn't work," commissioner Roger Goodell said in May. "And we need to find another way to celebrate our players."

Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated reported in May the league might remove the 2023 Pro Bowl because the game has "become a little embarrassing for the league."

The league added a skills showdown in recent years ahead of the Pro Bowl, including a dodgeball game, throwing competitions and a 40-yard dash. These events will seemingly become more of a featured part of the weekend ahead of an anticipated flag football game with the best players in the sport.

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