The annual Pro Bowl game is a time-honored tradition in the National Football League wherein the sport honors the best of the best of its players and showcases their talents on the national stage with an exhibition scrimmage between the top players of the NFC and the AFC.
The only problem is that the Pro Bowl may be done away with as early as next season, and for valid reasons. According to Ray Anderson, the NFL executive vice president of football operations, the future of the game will depend largely on the quality of the product and the effort put forth by the participants of the 2012-13 Pro Bowl.
"Our hope is that the players will give the same effort and energy that allowed them to become roster members of this Pro Bowl", he said. League commissioner Roger Goodell nearly cancelled the game already after last season’s poor showing, but there will still be a game this year—possibly the last.
The Pro Bowl was once viewed as quite an honor for players who were selected by their coaches and peers, and they showed their appreciation for the acclaim during the Pro Bowl game.
But the introduction of fan voting, the meteoric rise in popularity of the sport—and thus the money involved—and the decline of the prestige of the event have dramatically impacted the way that the game is played, and, accordingly, the way that it is viewed.
The popularity of the Pro Bowl had been waning for years when the NFL elected to shift the game from the week after the Super Bowl to the week before in order to help raise its awareness. It could be argued, however, that the move has done more harm than good for the future of the game.
That is because the league rules dictate that players that will be participating in the Super Bowl cannot participate in the Pro Bowl. As just an example from this season, players like Patrick Willis, NaVarro Bowman, Joe Staley, Mike Iupati, Haloti Ngata, Ray Rice, and Marshall Yanda will not be involved in the game due to their teams being in the Super Bowl.
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