The first version of the now NFL Pro Bowl was played in 1939, under the title "Pro All-Star Game." The game has seen a great number of changes over the decades. New titles, locations and rules modifications, didn't seem to affect the game's popularity.
According to a Jan. 24, report by B/R, the new unconferenced Pro Bowl format for the 2014 game, is sure to entertain. In theory at least.
Hall of Fame players Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders, were enlisted to facilitate the Pro Bowl teams' rosters. "Team Rice" and "Team Sanders," now replace "AFC" and "NFC" team formations. Rice and Sanders respectively, are coaching and were instrumental in stringing together the two teams.
The change to the game's format seems to come at a time when the Pro Bowl is struggling to draw viewers. The 2014 makeshift team rosters are designed to mirror "Fantasy Football," a fictional football league, matching players in teams that are not necessarily associated with the player's own team or conference.
The real question is, did the NFL over estimate the popularity and interest in Fantasy Football and how will the game play out in real file? Ticket holders, viewers and advertisers will have the last word.
The Pro Bowl's game quality, history and future has been shaky since 2010. The problems with the game seem to culminate in the 2012 Pro Bowl game. The game was a shamble, lacking professional effort put forth by the players. The antics forced NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, to consider doing away with the time honored classic.
Goodell went on record stating that if he doe's not see improvement in the quality of the play action, in the 2013 Pro Bowl, he may take action to remove the game from the post-season roster.
The 2013 NFL Pro Bowl's theme was "competitiveness." Last year's game did show signs of a more competitive drive, according to the critics of the game.
Where is the game headed in 2014? A makeshift version of a questionably popular, Fantasy Football free-for-all?
The new format seems to stray away from last year's do-or-die threat of canceling the game permanently. Is Goodell softening or desperate for fan and marketing approval?