The Pro Bowl is saved. A month after speculation that the NFL might nix its version of an all-star game, the NFL and the NFLPA announced via a joint release on Wednesday that the 2013 Pro Bowl is set for January 27 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii.
For the fourth year in a row, the Pro Bowl will happen the week before the Super Bowl, launching a week of media hysteria around the big game. This year's Pro Bowl will be broadcast on NBC at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
In late April, a report surfaced that the league was considering suspending the event due to the quality of play. The NFL responded noting that no decision had been made at that time, though the league did acknowledge problems with the product.
Players and the NFLPA had a hand in bringing back the game in 2013. From the joint NFL/NFLPA release:
"The players have made it clear through the NFL Players Association that they would like the opportunity to continue to play the Pro Bowl in Hawaii," said NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Ray Anderson. "We look forward to working with the players toward the goal of improving the competitiveness of this season's game."
Dominique Foxworth echoed that sentiment.
"The players believe that the Pro Bowl is an important tradition," said Foxworth. "We worked hard with the league to make sure the best players in the NFL are honored for their achievements on the field."
Some 12.5 million fans watched the 2012 Pro Bowl, the second-highest television rating since 2001. That number was down by about 900,000 viewers from the 2011 Pro Bowl.
By comparison, the first night of the 2012 NFL Draft was seen by some 25 million viewers. NBC's Sunday Night Football averaged more than 20 million viewers per broadcast last season, and the Sunday afternoon telecasts on CBS and Fox routinely drew more than 20 million viewers. ESPN averaged 13.3 million for its Monday Night Football broadcasts. The Pro Bowl may earn some derision from fans, but it is still a moneymaker, even bringing up the rear of pro football broadcasts.