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NFL Ends Pro Bowl; Skills Competitions, Flag Game As an alternative

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By ROB MAADDI, AP Pro Football Author

The NFL is replacing the Pro Bowl with weeklong skills competitions and a flag football game, The Associated Press has learned.

The brand new event will replace the full-contact showcase began in 1951. It would be renamed “The Pro Bowl Games” and can feature AFC and NFC players showcasing their football and non-football skills in challenges over several days. The 2023 Games shall be held in Las Vegas, and the flag football game at Allegiant Stadium is Sunday, Feb. 5.

Peyton Manning and his Omaha Productions company will help shape programming and promote the event’s content throughout the week. Manning, a 14-time Pro Bowl pick during his Hall of Fame profession, will provide his perspective and may also be an element of the coaching staff for flag game.

“The Pro Bowl is something that we’ve been taking a look at for some time, really continuing to evolve,” NFL executive Peter O’Reilly told The Associated Press. “Coming out of last yr’s game, we actually made the choice based on quite a lot of internal conversations, getting feedback from GMs and coaches, getting quite a lot of feedback from players. We predict there’s an actual opportunity to do something wholly different here and move away from the standard tackle football game. We decided the goal is to have fun 88 of the most important stars within the NFL in a extremely positive, fun, yet competitive way.

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“The feedback very directly from guys who had been within the Pro Bowl recently was to maintain the construct of the week, ensure you’re having that multi-day element. It was overwhelmingly positive each from players in addition to from clubs.”

The Pro Bowl debuted in January of 1951 in Los Angeles and stayed there for 21 seasons before the sport moved to different cities from 1972-80. Hawaii hosted from 1980-2009, and the sport has had several homes within the years since, including Miami, Phoenix, Orlando and Las Vegas.

Quality of play within the Pro Bowl has often been criticized. Players, understandably concerned about getting hurt, treat it as an exhibition greater than competition. A flag football game could increase competition while avoiding potential injuries resulting from tackling, blocking and hitting.

The NFL has a significant interest in flag football. The league partnered with the International Federation of American Football to bring flag football to The World Games in July with a watch on the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.

“You tap into all of the stuff that feels great about Pro Bowl week, the talents, the helmets off, the engagement after which culminate that, keeping the AFC-NFC construct, in something that’s really essential, which is flag football and that chance to have the perfect athletes within the NFL on the market playing this game that’s a lot in regards to the way forward for our sport,” said O’Reilly, the league’s executive vice chairman, club business and league events. “It’s been an evolution, but coming out of Las Vegas last yr, we actually focused on how can we reinvent and have fun our all-stars even higher.”

The league plans to announce the brand new format on Monday.

“The Pro Bowl has all the time been a time to step back and have fun the sport of football with teammates, fans and family,” Manning told the AP. “I’m thankful I can proceed to be a part of the week as all of us at Omaha Productions work with the NFL to reimagine The Pro Bowl Games. Making Sunday’s game a flag football game is great to see. Youth football has been extremely essential to me, and knowing NFL FLAG will help grow this sport, I hope girls and boys can see themselves playing the identical game as the perfect players on the planet.”

Fan voting will still help determine the AFC and NFC team rosters. Tom Brady has essentially the most invitations to the Pro Bowl with 15. 4 players got 14 invites, including Manning. The East-West Shrine Bowl shall be held at Allegiant Stadium on Thursday, Feb. 2.

Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter at https://twitter.com/robmaaddi

More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material will not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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