The 2014 Pro Bowl will take place on Sunday, to the bemusement and indifference of many football fans. It almost didn't happen this year, though. Commissioner Roger Goodell was "very serious" about canceling the All-Star game entirely, according to NFLPA President Dominique Foxworth (via USA Today's Tom Pelissero).
"Roger was very serious about potentially canceling the Pro Bowl because apparently it's very expensive and isn't of a ton of value to them," Foxworth told USA TODAY Sports this week.
Pro Bowl 2014
Pro Bowl 2014
The Pro Bowl has been a long-running joke in the football community. Foxworth said that Goodell considers it too expensive and not a good investment for the league, but the players still enjoy it and wanted to keep it going. The players consider it an honor to be invited to Hawaii and celebrated as the best in the league. There are also financial considerations in play, since many contracts have Pro Bowl appearance incentives built into them.
So the show goes on, but not without major reforms. The biggest one was the elimination of conference teams -- the players were drafted by team captains Deion Sanders and Jerry Rice -- but they also mandated a two-minute drill at the end of each quarter and legalized zone coverage, encouraging the players to play harder than normal.
Will these changes result in a more desirable product? We'll find out in a few hours, but the damage may have been done already. The Pro Bowl Draft was criticized for being dragged out over two days and featuring little intrigue. Some would consider it a blessing if Goodell did away with the game altogether, but as long as the players want to do it, it will probably stay. Don't expect this issue to go away anytime soon.
The Pro Bowl starts at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC. I would say it "kicks off," but kickoffs have been eliminated from the game. So it goes.