NFL Announces Format, Schedule, Voting for Virtual Madden 21 Pro Bowl

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistNovember 17, 2020

AFC defensive end Calais Campbell, of the Jacksonville Jaguars, (93) and quarterback Lamar Jackson, of the Baltimore Ravens, celebrate at the end of the NFL Pro Bowl football game against the NFC, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. The AFC defeated the NFC 38-33.(AP Photo/John Raoux)
John Raoux/Associated Press

The NFL announced Tuesday that it will hold a virtual Pro Bowl in Madden NFL 21 this season in partnership with EA Sports. 

Per that press release, "EA Sports and the NFL will create a week-long series of matchups featuring celebrities, NFL legends, current players, and streamers playing as the official Pro Bowl rosters in Madden NFL 21. These matchups will culminate in an action-packed virtual Pro Bowl game played with 2021 Pro Bowl players facing off within Madden NFL 21."

The Pro Bowl Fan Vote began on Tuesday and will continue until Dec. 17, with voting to be held on both Madden NFL 21's mobile and console versions and on NFL.com. From Dec. 1 to 17, voting will also take place on Twitter.

The NFL previously canceled the 2021 Pro Bowl, scheduled to take place at Allegiant Stadium the week before the Super Bowl, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Peter O'Reilly, the NFL's EVP of club business and events, released the following statement about this year's unorthodox Pro Bowl:

"Even amidst unparalleled change across the sports industry, we are excited to transition many of the signature components of the Pro Bowl—which will go virtual in Madden NFL 21—into a new innovative experience for our players and fans. We remain committed to using our Pro Bowl platform to empower fans to virtually celebrate the best players in the game." 

In a year that has included fans at games in a limited capacity—and in some cases, not at all—it isn't a surprise that the NFL would also have to pivot away from the Pro Bowl. The coronavirus pandemic has forced sweeping changes on professional and college sports across the United States and world. 

As for the voting, one-third of the vote used to determine this year's Pro Bowlers will come from the fans, one-third from players and one-third from the league's coaches.