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NFL Nixes Tackle Game From Pro Bowl

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The N.F.L. announced on Monday that it will turn the Pro Bowl, its annual all-star game, right into a flag football game and drop the tackle game entirely. The shift comes as participation and interest within the exhibition has dwindled lately, despite the league’s efforts at modifying it.

At this season’s event, scheduled to happen in Las Vegas the week before the Super Bowl in February, chosen players will proceed to take part in skills competitions as they’ve done since 2017, before players from the N.F.C. and the A.F.C. will play one another in a flag football game.

The week of events will probably be broadcast by ESPN and ABC together with production from Omaha Studios, the media company founded by the retired quarterback Peyton Manning.

“We’ve received invaluable feedback from players, teams and fans about reimagining the Pro Bowl, and consequently, we’re thrilled to make use of the Pro Bowl Games as a platform to highlight flag football as an integral a part of the game’s future while also introducing fun, latest types of competition and entertainment that may bring our players, their families and fans closer than ever before,” Peter O’Reilly, the N.F.L.’s senior vp for events, said in a press release.

The league has for years faced criticism over the Pro Bowl and dwindling interest in it. Television rankings for the event have steadily declined, with the 2021 version drawing a reported 6.7 million viewers, the bottom total since 2006.

Few star players who’re chosen for the sport actually participate, citing the necessity to rest after the regular season, and the N.F.L. has relocated the event several times within the hopes of drawing players to vacation destinations.

The sport, which began in 1951, was originally hosted in Los Angeles, then moved to Hawaii from 1980 to 2009. The N.F.L. has since cycled the sport amongst different cities, including Las Vegas and Miami.

With few competitive stakes and only passing interest, the sport has been marked by lackluster play and few compelling moments. So as to add excitement to the broadcasts, the N.F.L. re-added the talents competition to the event in 2017 after having discontinued it ahead of the 2008 Pro Bowl.

The new edition of the showcase event marks a shift for the N.F.L., which has for years funded and promoted youth flag football leagues as a strategy to introduce children to mixed gender competition while mitigating the risks of head injury and accessibility concerns amongst parents.

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