Prior to the kickoff of the season, the NFL announced the Pro Bowl would be returning to Las Vegas on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023. Next year the Pro Bowl will not include a traditional football game.
The 2023 Pro Bowl will have a flag football game along with a skills competition. Since this is no longer a single event, the NFL has dubbed the occasion “The Pro Bowl Games”.
The Pro Bowl Games will be a week-long celebration of the best players in the NFL. There will be a slew of events and competitions that focus on player skills used on the gridiron.
The change of format and additional events will be a refreshing change sure to help boost fan engagement. Perhaps it will also be more interesting for sports bettors to wager on these new events at Nevada sportsbooks.
The multi-day AFC vs NFC competition will culminate in a Flag football game featuring players voted to play in the Pro Bowl. In fact, the week of events will include a nod to Flag football.
Why change the Pro Bowl?
The Pro Bowl game has been under scrutiny for years. After a long season, it was difficult for players to perform at their full capabilities for an exhibition game.
Who could blame them? The games take a physical toll on every player’s body. Additionally, the players had a fear of getting injured and possibly losing out on future earnings.
The Pro Bowl game became a joke in the past few years with players not even wanting to tackle one another. Amazingly nearly 7 million people watched players lollygagging around the field during the Pro Bowl in Las Vegas last year.
NFL Executive Vice President, Club Business and League Events, Peter O’Reilly shared thoughts on the new Pro Bowl format:
“We’ve received invaluable feedback from players, teams, and fans about reimagining the Pro Bowl, and as a result, we’re thrilled to use The Pro Bowl Games as a platform to spotlight Flag football as an integral part of the sport’s future while also introducing fun, new forms of competition and entertainment that will bring our players, their families and fans closer than ever before.”
While players can still get hurt playing flag football and competing in competitions, the Pro Bowl changes should provide a fair compromise. Removing players from potentially being hit hard is a good start.
The changes should make a more appealing product for those watching on TV.
The Pro Bowl Games will feature Flag football throughout the week. The Pro Bowl Games will open with Play Football Opening Night and NFL Flag Championships. The latter was part of Pro Bowl week in Las Vegas earlier this year.
NFL and Flag football
The NFL is using Flag football as a platform to help increase participation in the game. Since more people can play Flag football instead of tackle football, it has become a more accessible and inclusive version of the game.
The NFL Flag Championships at The Pro Bowl Games is a great example of how the league is using this version of football to reach children. This event will feature the top girls’ and boys’ youth Flag teams from across the country and around the world.
Shortly after announcing The Pro Bowl Games, the NFL revealed its new Flag football ambassadors. The new list includes:
- Current players: Jalen Hurts (Philadelphia Eagles) and Amon-Ra St. Brown (Detroit Lions)
- Former players: Eli Manning and Osi Umenyiora (New York Giants)
- The first woman to officiate the Super Bowl: Desiree Abrams
These new ambassadors will help increase awareness, interest, and participation in flag football. In turn, this should help increase the popularity of American football around the world
Pro Bowl returning to Las Vegas
Once again, the Pro Bowl will take place at Allegiant Stadium. The main event will air on ESPN and ABC on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023.
O’Reilly shared his thoughts on the NFL’s All-Star event returning to the home of the Las Vegas Raiders:
“Building on the success of the 2022 Pro Bowl and 2022 Draft, as well as our strong partnership with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) and Las Vegas Raiders, we look forward to bringing The 2023 Pro Bowl Games to the capital of world-class sports and entertainment.”
Pro Bowl week was important to the Las Vegas economy this year. The LVCVA says the week of events had a $54.7 million economic impact on Las Vegas.
While the focus on the Pro Bowl has always been the game airing on TV, there has been a week of events leading into the game for the past few years.
That will continue during The Pro Bowl Games. Las Vegas could see a bump in the economy with the league marketing the weeklong events more holistically.
Pro Bowl Week in Las Vegas
The Pro Bowl game in Las Vegas this year attracted about 56,000 people to watch the event in person at Allegiant Stadium. Approximately 30,000 people enjoyed Pro Bowl week events leading into the game.
While Flag football is the focus of the 2023 Pro Bowl Games, there will be events throughout the week once again.
For starters, the NFL confirms that the East-West Shrine Bowl will return to Las Vegas next year. This is the game where the best college senior pro prospects showcase their talent for NFL teams.
Since the coaches are from the NFL players also use this as an opportunity to develop their talents and network.
As usual, the NFL will allow fans to vote for the players they want to see on the NFC and AFC rosters of the Pro Bowl Games next year. Voting will start this fall.
Players voted on will also take part in skills activities and “unique competitions” during The Pro Bowl Games. The 2022 Skills Challenge at the Pro Bowl this year included the following events:
- Best Catch
- Fastest Man
- Precision Passing
- Thread the Needle
The league will announce new and returning Pro Bowl Games competitions later this year.