For Some Reason, The NFL Will Keep The Pro Bowl

There had been rumors over the past several months that the National Football League was finally going to put football fans out of their misery and put an end to the sad spectacle of the Pro Bowl which, whether it’s been held before or after the Super Bowl, has been something of a joke when it comes to sports All-Star games. Unfortunately, it looks like we’ll be dealing with the Pro Bowl for another year at least:

NEW YORK — After receiving a promise from players that the game will be more competitive, the NFL will hold the Pro Bowl Jan. 27 in Honolulu, a week before the Super Bowl.

Commissioner Roger Goodell had made it clear that canceling the game was a possibility after the uninspired play of this year’s 59-41 AFC victory. After discussions between the league and the players’ union, the NFL announced Wednesday that Aloha Stadium would host the Pro Bowl for the third straight year.

It will be the 33rd Pro Bowl in Hawaii.

“The players have made it clear through the NFL Players Association that they would like the opportunity to continue to play the Pro Bowl in Hawaii,” NFL executive vice president Ray Anderson said.

Well of course they do, it’s a free trip to Hawaii, who wouldn’t want to go? It also appears that Hawaii’s tourism board played a role in this decision:

News of the Pro Bowl’s return was met with praise by Hawaii tourism officials and Gov. Neil Abercrombie. Both Abercrombie and Mike McCartney, chief executive of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, hinted the state plans to deepen its ties to the league by helping it establish relationships in Asia — a continent with several major markets for tourism to the Aloha State.

“Beyond Hawaii’s shores, we look forward to assisting the NFL in expanding upon their relationships in Japan, and help them to establish a presence in China — both important markets for Hawaii tourism,” McCartney said.

Of course why the NFL, which has already played games in Mexico and Europe, would need Hawaii’s help in establishing its brand in Asia I don’t quite understand. The reality, of course, is that the Pro Bowl brings in a nice little bundle of cash for Hawaii every year, so it’s in their interest to keep the game around.

It also appears, that there are actually people who watch the thing on television, although I must confess I’m not one of them. All-Star games in general are usually pretty boring, but the Pro Bowl in particular suffers from the fact that the best players from the two teams that play in the Super Bowl either don’t show up at all, or wisely decide to bench themselves to avoid injury. Not to mention the fact that defense generally seems to be non-existent; in the last twelve Pro Bowl’s an average of 71 points have been scored by both teams. Not exactly a defensive struggle, eh?

H/T: Allahpundit

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Chad S says:

    The players were concerned that they would lose their pro bowl bonuses. Im guessing they’ll eventually guarantee them in contract language and get rid of the game.

  2. Hey Norm says:

    Generally making the Pro-Bowl is an incentive clause in the players contracts with their teams.
    In an era of incentive laden contracts it becomes a really big monetary issue.
    The pay-day from the league for playing isn’t all that much comparatively.

    They need to take a page from MLB and make the game mean something. But the Leagues and the playoff structures and the timing of the all-star/pro-bowl games are very different…so the solution would have to be very different.

  3. Racehorse says:

    I have some ideas to breathe some life into this: skills competition (kicking, passing), NFL stars play college stars. This game is really not for the tv viewers. The cities where it is held benefit from the people getting to see many of the players.

  4. al-Ameda says:

    I have not watched a Pro Bowl game in well over 20 years. It is a colossal waste of time and in no way resembles an actual football game.

    Seriously, I’d rather watch Celebrity Refrigerator Cleaning with as hosted by the SI Swimsuit Models.

  5. James Joyner says:

    And yet it’s easily the most watched of the all-star games. The NFL is just that huge.

  6. Racehorse says:

    @James Joyner: I think the baseball all star game still has some appeal left, but it is not like it was years ago. Then, the teams were out there to win instead of protecting and “saving” their players, especially pitchers. Even though many of the games in the ’60’s were low scoring, pitching battles, we saw great players.

  7. Just nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    “an average of 71 points have been scored by both teams”

    That’s the only thing that makes it worth watching at all. Watching a bunch of roided up goofs grind out three yards at at time and then punt is about as exciting as watching grass die.

    Defensive struggle, my arse!

  8. Tano says:

    @James Joyner:

    Is that true James? I spent a minute looking this up and found that in 2010, the baseball AS game got a 7.5 rating (its lowest ever) while the Pro Bowl had a 7.1 rating. You have other data?

  9. Jeremy says:

    They should just adopt promotion and relegation for the NFL like they do in European futbol, maybe taking the UFL as a junior league (and I’m sure they could get another league below that for a three tier system to develop players.) It would have the added benefit of junking the ridiculous collegiate football schema we have today, which is a real disservice to students.

    I also, though, like the idea of watching an NFL team play a college team. Just to see what would happen.

  10. Elise McMann says:

    The NFL demands $4 million from Hawaii before they will allow the state to host the bowl. Hawaii doesn’t make back that much money on the taxes raised from ticket sales (which are generally modest), concessions, hotel taxes, and the variety of other spending in which Pro Bowl attendees take part. The Pro Bowl has been a net money loser for Hawaii for many years now.

    Less than a year ago, Governor Abercrombie said this:

    “You can’t do things like give four million bucks to a $9 billion football industry and not give any money to children. [The NFL] comes and asks us to bribe them with $4 million to have a scrimmage out here in paradise. We’ve got to get our values straight and our priorities straight.”

    I simply don’t believe that he’s changed his tune 180 degrees since then. Someone’s putting words in his mouth.

  11. Racehorse says:

    The NHL all star game is also a waste of time. The skills competition, on the other hand, was very exciting. Do they still do that?

  12. @Jeremy:

    Wasn’t that was NFL Europe was supposed to be before they scrapped it?