Devin Hester #23 of the Chicago Bears runs the ball downfield against the American Football Conference (AFC) during the 2011 NFL Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium on January 30, 2011 in Honolulu, Hawaii.
If Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Devin Hester and Brandon Marshall have another Pro Bowl-worthy season*, they will get another trip to Hawaii. Though rumors circulated that the Pro Bowl was on its way out and that it was moving to New Orleans, the league and the players association announced today the 2013 Pro Bowl will take place in Hawaii and air on NBC the weekend before the Super Bowl.
To the press release!
"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," said NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Ray Anderson. "We will support the players on this initiative to improve the Pro Bowl. We have had many discussions with the players in recent years about the Pro Bowl and they recognize that the quality of the game has not been up to NFL standards. We look forward to working with the players toward the goal of improving the competitiveness of this season’s game."
"The players believe that the Pro Bowl is an important tradition," said NFLPA President Domonique Foxworth. "We worked hard with the league to make sure the best players in the NFL are honored for their achievements on the field."
Rumblings of change came after unsatisfied fans booed the game, unsatisfied players like Aaron Rodgers questioned his teammates' effort, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell spoke of the end of the game that's supposed to showcase the NFL's best players.
Even though the location will not change, hopefully the NFL and NFLPA will still figure out a way to make the game more compelling. Though the NFL is by far the most popular sports league in the U.S., the Pro Bowl is the worst of of the all-star offerings. The NBA and NHL make a weekend out of the event, offering skills challenges, and celebrity events to make more than just the players on the all-star teams interested. MLB and the NBA hold futures stars events, too. The NBA's slam dunk contest has become an event in and of itself.
The NFL could do this, too. Who wouldn't want to see a foot race between speedy receivers like Hester and Calvin Johnson? An accuracy test of the league's best quarterbacks and a kick-off for the best kickers would make for great television.
If the league and the players' association could come together to agree on a place for the Pro Bowl, surely they could also work on a way to fix the game so that it's interesting to fans and players alike.
*Hopefully, no Bears will be in the 2013 Pro Bowl because they will be in the Super Bowl.