To be elected to the Pro Bowl is one of the greatest honors that an NFL football player can receive during his career. When you hear that a guy has been a five time Pro Bowler, you know that they are taking about a journeyman athlete who has won the respect of NFL fans and players alike.
Being selected to the Pro Bowl is one thing. The Pro Bowl game itself has always been something of a reward to those great players and a chance to have one of those times when everybody gets together and brings the family for what was always a great party atmosphere. That atmosphere, however, is changing because of COVID-19.
NFL Pulls Plug On Pro Bowl
The US is experiencing unprecedented times. Pro football and baseball are being played to nearly empty stadiums and cardboard cutouts have taken the place of fans in the stands. Recorded crowd sounds of cheering and clapping are piped into the stadium and out to the fans at home watching on TV.
The NFL owners recently held a virtual meeting and, among other topics discussed, they decided to cancel this year’s Pro Bowl, which was scheduled for January 2021 at the new home of the Las Vegas Raiders in Allegiant Stadium just outside of Las Vegas.
The Death Of The Pro Bowl Luau
The Pro Bowl used to be held in Hawaii each year, and then it really was a party, until NFL commissioner Roger Goodell decided that everyone was having too much fun and threatened to cancel the long standing NFL tradition citing lax play on the field. Then J.J. Watt did a little sidelines cameo with his face all bloody and said famously, “We are playing hard Mr. Commissioner.” But Goodell still pulled the game from Hawaii and a tradition that players all strived for got downgraded to just another game in just another big city.
NFL players still covet being elected to the Pro Bowl. It’s just not the reward that the players and their families got to enjoy together in the warm tropical sun of Hawaii after a long cold football season. Now, they get to go to Las Vegas.
One reason that the NFL Pro Bowl has always been such an honor is that the players are selected in part by those very same fans that cheer for them during the regular season. In this voting, all fans are equal. Whether they hold season tickets on the 50-yard line, enjoy a private booth up high in the stadium with all the trimmings, or are even those who have never set foot in an NFL stadium, it is one fan, one vote for the Pro Bowl.
Pro Bowl Selection Will Still Take Place
The selection process for the NFL 2020 Pro Bowl will still take place with fan voting opening up on November 17 and the 88 winners being announced in mid-December, but the actual football game that is the NFL Pro Bowl has been canceled for this football season.
Fans, players and coaches all get to vote for the Pro Bowl selection, the voting being divided equally by thirds. So much more for the honor of being selected. Whether working on inside information, or simply working with an abundance of caution, the NFL owners, citing the COVID-19 crisis, have decided to replace the actual football game with “a variety of engaging activities.” Fans and players alike remain skeptical.
What was a coming together of the best of the best of the NFL along with their families has now been reduced to one of those “virtual events” in which the players all stand in front of their TV sets talking to everyone else and pretending to have a good time. It will be interesting to see what type of “engaging activities” are created, but it’s doubtful they’ll be as good as the Pro Bowl.