The Pro Bowl Games

The Pro Bowl as we know it is no more. Learn about the all new “Pro Bowl Games” here!


The National Football League’s take on an  all-star game, the Pro Bowl, is a yearly staple of each football season, similar to the National Basketball Association’s All-Star Weekend. The number of Pro Bowl selections is a significant talking point in the career of any great NFL Player from the last 70 years, as it shows they were among the best players in the League at their position. Despite being a significant honor for players named to participate in the Pro Bowl, the game has steadily received criticism from fans over the years. The game consistently gets low TV ratings, as many people see the game to be “uninteresting” and “not real football.” Due to concerns about injuring the star players in a game that does not count for any NFL team, players do not play as hard as they would in the regular season and playoffs. So, in an effort to revitalize the Pro Bowl’s reception among fans while still being safe for the players heading into their offseason, the NFL is completely changing it, transforming the Pro Bowl game into the week-long “Pro Bowl Games.”




The NFL began their yearly all-star game, known as the Pro Bowl, in 1951. The game put the best players from the National Football Conference (NFC) up against the best from the American Football Conference (AFC). Prior to 1995, only the coaches and players made selections for who would play in the Pro Bowl. Today, Pro Bowl selections are left up to the fans, who can participate in a yearly vote to contribute to the players they wish to receive the honor of playing in the game (cast your vote for this year’s players here). From 2014 to 2016, the NFL experimented with rule changes for the Pro Bowl in an attempt to combat criticism about the lack of competitive play. Among these rule changes were a revision to the method of player selection. For three years, players were selected out of a pool, not restricted by conference, by two coaches, both previous NFL players who are in the Hall of Fame, such as Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders in 2014. Starting in 2017, the Pro Bowl returned to fan selection, which will continue this year. The Pro Bowl has been held in various locations around the world, from Honolulu, Hawaii, to Los Angeles, California, to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This year’s “Pro Bowl Games” will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Players are paid a bonus for their participation in the game, with this year’s payout being $80,000 to the winners and $40,000 to the losers. The culminating Pro Bowl game has been held in recent years on the Sunday before the Super Bowl, with a variety of publicity and skill competitions being held throughout the week leading up to the game. Due to this, selected players from the two teams competing in the Super Bowl do not participate in the Pro Bowl, instead being replaced by alternates voted for by fans.



We think there’s a real opportunity to do something wholly different here … We decided the goal is to celebrate 88 of the biggest stars in the NFL in a really positive, fun, yet competitive way

— NFL Executive Peter O'Reilly

Pro Bowl Games:

This year, for the first time since 1951, the NFL is doing away with the traditional Pro Bowl game, a full-scale tackle football game (with slight rule changes). In an effort to maintain and expand the popularity of the Pro Bowl and celebrate the stars of the sport, all while keeping the players safe, the NFL is partnering with Peyton Manning and his company Omaha Productions to put together the first Pro Bowl Games. The Pro Bowl Games will follow previous years’ weeklong format, allowing ample time to publicize and honor the NFL’s stars, this time culminating in a flag football game, an alternative to the traditional style that will ideally allow for flashy plays as well as do away with the possibility for injury that comes with blocking and tackling. The week of the Pro Bowl historically has a lineup of games and skill competitions that the players compete in, but this year you can likely expect the list to be even longer, as the entire focus of the new Pro Bowl week is on the skill competitions. Games from previous years include:

Precision Passing: Previously, each conference’s quarterbacks and one non-quarterback from each team competed in a throwing accuracy competition. The participants each have one minute to hit as many targets as possible. The targets are attached to robotic dummies that move across the field, and the targets are assigned different point values based on their difficulty to hit. After the time is up, the contestants get one long distance throw for a chance to earn bonus points.


Thread the Needle: Contrary to the Precision Passing competition, the thread the needle competition pits the quarterbacks against the defensive backs from the opposing team. In this game, the quarterbacks try to hit as many targets as possible while the opposing secondary tries to limit their success. 


Best Catch: Two wide receivers from each team compete in a scored competition to perform the best catch. Similar to the NBA Dunk Contest, The players have to combine their talent with creativity to create a spectacular catch. The catches can include anything from props to guest appearances, and will be scored by a panel of celebrity judges. 


Fastest Man: This competition is simple. Two skill position players (WR, RB, DB) from each team will compete in a classic 40-yard dash to determine who is the fastest player in the league.


Epic Pro Bowl Dodgeball: Both teams compete with their entire roster in a classic dodgeball competition. It is a best of three series, and the team with the last person on the court wins. 


Fans are excited to see what the NFL has in store for the first Pro Bowl Games. You can expect a wide variety of fun competitions on top of the classics listed above. Don’t forget to enter your votes for which players make the Pro Bowl (vote here). Each team’s roster is made up of:


3 QB, 3 RB, 4 WR, 2 TE, 1 FB, 3 T, 3 G, 2 C, 3 DE, 3 DT, 3 OLB, 2 ILB, 4 CB, 1 FS, 2 SS, 1 LS, 1 P, 1 K, 1 RS, 1 ST


The moral of the story is that there are more than enough spots to get several of your favorite players selected. Vote Now!