By RHETT WILLIAMS
Sheridan High School Student
Through the years and mostly very recently the Pro Bowl has been under fire by fans of football and even by the players and coaches themselves for the lack of seriousness taken and effort put out. Back in 2012, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was so fed up with the performance of the games he was ready to abandon it for good. Goodell since has made changes to the game to try and make it much more competitive.
First off, the Pro Bowl Game isn’t played like any regular football game. The two teams consist of 43 man rosters. Rule changes include that kickoffs are completely eliminated from the game. After a team scores, the opponents take over on their own 25-yard line. There is no shifting or motion by the offense and you must always run with a tight end set. On defense the only legal formation you can run is a 4-3, but cover 2 is permitted.
This year because of the color rush uniforms newly added to the Thursday Night Football games, the Pro Bowl turned to the color rush uniforms for its game. The AFC was dressed in all red, while the NFC was in all blue. This made the field a lot more appealing to most fans instead of the amount of white seen on the field in previous years. During the 2012, 13, and 14 seasons, the NFL eliminated the conference teams and had Pro Bowl Hall of Famers like Jerry Rice, Deion Sanders, Cris Carter, and Michael Irvin select the two teams. The games became a little bit more competitive and the player feedback was strong.
This year’s Pro Bowl was back to the original format where teams were divided by conference. Goodell also changed the location of the Pro Bowl, almost always played at Aloha Stadium in Hawaii, to being played at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida. The attendance between the two games went up by over 10,000 spectators between this year and last. This is also bringing in a lot of money for the league.
Although Roger Goodell has not made Camping World Stadium the permanent home for the game, that is where it will be played for the next two years. The overall quality of the ballgame definitely changed with the performance of the players. A lot more defense was played this year in a low-scoring contest of 20-13. The MVP of the offensive side of the ball was tight end Travis Kelce from the Kansas City Chiefs. The defensive MVP was named Lorenzo Alexander of the Buffalo Bills.
Previous scores of the game before the player draft came along included: 62-35, 59-41, and 55-41. Goodell was not happy with the defensive side of the ball and this is where the changes came along. This year the NFL also brought back the skills challenges to the Pro Bowl weekend. The events included Epic Pro Bowl Dodgeball, Power Relay Challenge, Precision Passing, and Best Hands. This brought a better experience to the weekend for the fans instead of just the game to look forward to. It also brought a more competitive manner out of some of the athletes that maybe wasn’t seen in the game. Only athletes that were participating in the game were invited for the skills challenges.
The overall turnout of the game was very impressive. The game sold out Camping World Stadium with an attendance of a little over 60,000 fans. Since Goodell and the league have made changes to the game it has further improved in quality.