NFL ends Pro Bowl game, opts for skill competitions and flag football
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The NFL will no longer host a Pro Bowl game at the end of the regular season each year.
Instead, the league will replace the event with “The Pro Bowl Games” and will feature AFC and NFC players showcasing their football and non-football skills in a series of challenges over the course of several days in February, including a flag football game.
The first iteration of the event will take place in Las Vegas in February with the flag football game taking place at Allegiant Stadium on Feb. 5.
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“The Pro Bowl is something that we’ve been looking at for a while, really continuing to evolve,” NFL executive Peter O’Reilly told The Associated Press on Monday. “Coming out of last year’s game, we really made the decision based on a lot of internal conversations, getting feedback from GMs and coaches, getting a lot of feedback from players. We think there’s a real opportunity to do something wholly different here and move away from the traditional tackle football game. We decided the goal is to celebrate 88 of the biggest stars in the NFL in a really positive, fun, yet competitive way.
“The feedback very directly from guys who had been in the Pro Bowl recently was to keep the construct of the week, make sure you’re having that multi-day element. It was overwhelmingly positive both from players as well as from clubs.”
Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions will also have a hand in the programming for the event throughout the week. The legendary quarterback will also be on the staff for the flag football game.
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The Pro Bowl game featured the best players from both conferences going head-to-head in one final All-Star event to put the cap on the season. The Pro Bowl debuted in 1951 and has been played in Los Angeles, Hawaii, Miami, Phoenix, Orlando and Las Vegas.
The flag football game aspect comes as worries about injuries during the game rose over the last few years. Flag football is also looking to make an Olympic debut in 2028 in Los Angeles. The NFL has a major interest in the game and partnered with the International Federation of American Football to push for it at The World Games and later the Olympics.
“You tap into all the stuff that feels great about Pro Bowl week, the skills, the helmets off, the engagement and then culminate that, keeping the AFC-NFC construct, in something that’s really important, which is flag football and that opportunity to have the best athletes in the NFL out there playing this game that is so much about the future of our sport,” O’Reilly added. “It’s been an evolution, but coming out of Las Vegas last year, we really focused on how do we reinvent and celebrate our all-stars even better.”
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Fan voting will still determine the AFC and NFC rosters.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.