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Can The Pro Bowl Skills Showdown Revive The Pro Bowl?

The Pro Bowl Skills Showdown on Thursday looks to breathe new life back into the Pro Bowl that is currently on life support

Has the NFL found a way to bring interest back to the Pro Bowl by revamping an old idea?

It is no secret that the Pro Bowl has lost a lot of it’s appeal with the NFL fans. Commisioner Roger Goodell even threatened to shut the game down after noticing a lack of effort in the game. Many players express injury concerns and lack the motivation to put effort into a game that essentually has no meaning.

From moving the Pro Bowl to the week before the Super Bowl to creating a fantasy football style draft to determine teams for the Pro Bowl, the NFL has made many changes to the event over the years to help draw more interest to the NFL’s version of an all-star game. This year, changes are afoot once again. The Pro Bowl returns to it’s original format this season of pitting the AFC versus the NFC, and the game has been moved to Orlando, Florida. The game will be in Orlando for the next three seasons, which may could go in one or two directions. The first is some players may find it eaiser to spend a week in Orlando then Hawaii. The opposite side of that would be the player who would much rather enjoy a vacation in Hawaii then going to Orlando.

The rate at which players accept their invites to Pro Bowl is alarming. There have been a total of 35 players who were originally invited to the game decline their invitation, meaning only 57% of those originally invited will attend. Of the six quarterbacks invited to the game originally, only Dak Prescott accepted his invite. This number is actually an improvement over last year, as the 2016 Pro Bowl was the most declined invitation in history.

The NFL’s answer to attracting more people to find interest in the Pro Bowl is to bring back the NFL’s Skills Challenge after a ten year hiatus with a fresh new name, the Pro Bowl Skills Showdown. The competition will air Thursday night at 7 p.m., and will pit the AFC against the NFC much like the Pro Bowl itself, but will feature team captains for each conference. Ray Lewis and Jerome Bettis will represent the AFC while Tony Gonzalez and Charles Woodson will lead the NFC.

The Pro Bowl Skills Showdown will consist of five events:

  • Precision Passing Competition- Two players from each team will compete to hit moving targets that will vary in size and distance. Below shows Philip Rivers warming up on the course.

  • Best Hands Competition- This will be a skills competition searching for the best wide receiver-quarterback duo from each squad. Each duo will compete to see which team can connect on the most pass attempts in the allotted time frame.
  • Epic Pro Bowl Dodgeball- Although having nothing to do with football, watching NFL stars compete in a game of dodgeball should be extremely entertaining.
  • Power Relay Challenge- Four members from both the AFC and NFC teams will compete against each other in a timed relay race.
  • Drone Drop- A competition that reminds us that this isn’t your father’s football challenge. This competition was a late add to the card and will feature drones dropping footballs from the air. Below shows what the cometition might look like.

With the chance of injury lower (except for maybe dodgeball) in the competition as oppsed to the game itself, the effort level may be higher, even though the atmosphere will be more relaxed. The point of the competition is to bring an increased interest to the game itself.  If the NFL finds success in the upcoming years with the Pro Bowl Skills Showdown, the NFL may have to concider eliminating the game all together and expanding upon the skill competition. Sound crazy? You would be crazy to rule it out.


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