NFL Pro Bowl signage is seen at Allegiant Stadium on Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022, in Las Vegas. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Chase Stevens | Las Vegas Review-Journal | Getty Images
The NFL said it was eliminating the Pro Bowl in favor of a week of skills competitions and a flag football game.
In what is now being called “The Pro Bowl Games,” players from both conferences will showcase their soccer and non-soccer talents in a week-long series of competitive events, replacing the full-contact Pro Bowl game that began in 1951.
The multi-day event will be held in Las Vegas in February and culminates in a flag football match taking place at Allegiant Stadium, where the Las Vegas Raiders play.
In recent years, the Pro Bowl has often been criticized for players not playing to the best of their abilities in order to avoid injury. Last year, the NFL extended its regular season by one game. The NFL is also trying to amplify flag football, a growing part of the organization’s future.
The Associated Press first reported the news on Monday.
Earlier this year, the league said it was aiming to grow its international business to $1 billion a year. As part of this, the NFL has been pushing for flag football to be included in the Summer Olympics, with the goal of starting in 2028.
Last summer, the NFL partnered with the International Federation of American Football to bring flag football to the ‘World Games’, an international event that features games that were not included in the Olympics, in Birmingham , Alabama.
The league said in Monday’s statement that flag football is “an increasing priority for the organization” and “a critical part of the NFL’s engagement and development strategy, due to its highly accessible and inclusive qualities.” . Flag football will be integrated into other parts of the multi-day events.
The league said the week-long schedule and other details will be released later in the football season.
Disney’s broadcast network ABC and its cable channel ESPN will air the flag football game scheduled for Feb. 5, and the NFL said it was working with other partners to schedule the days of the competitions.
Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions will also have skin in the game as it helps shape programming throughout the week, the NFL said in a statement. Manning will also be part of the coaching staff for the flag football game.
Manning and his brother Eli, both retired NFL quarterbacks, have found success as co-hosts of an alternative television show “Monday Night Football” for ESPN2.
The Pro Bowl news follows the revelation that Rihanna will headline the now Apple-sponsored Super Bowl halftime show on February 12.
–CNBC Jessica Dore contributed to this report.