Why is there no Pro Bowl game in 2024?

2023 NFL Pro Bowl Games
2023 NFL Pro Bowl Games / Michael Owens/GettyImages

The Pro Bowl was a game that was held in between conference championship weekend and the Super Bowl where the best players in the league (as voted on by the fans) suited up and played a game of football. It was the AFC vs the NFC in most years (except for the handful of seasons where there was a schoolyard pick to decide teams).

The Pro Bowl was originally known as the NFL All-Star Game between the years of 1939 and 1942 before it became the Pro Bowl in 1951. This is the name that has stuck with the event but in 2022, it was announced that an actual contact game of football would no longer take place in the Pro Bowl.

Rather than have the athletes suit up and risk injury, the league decided to have a flag football game be played instead as well as a slew of other games. Hence, the newly-rebranded Pro Bowl Games.

Why is there no actual Pro Bowl game anymore?

Technically, there is. The athletes chosen for the Pro Bowl still play a game of flag football and while that's not the same as contact football, it's still technically a game.

The contact game was discontinued due to players' lack of interest and the risk of injuries to star players. In 2012, the Associated Press had this to say about the level of play during that year's Pro Bowl:

"With the Pro Bowlers unable to get out of third gear -- particularly on the offensive and defensive lines -- and hitting each other as though they were having a pillow fight, the Pro Bowl featured some good, bad and real ugly -- sometimes on the same play.

Associated Press

"Hitting each other as though they were having a pillow fight" was a good way to sum up the style of play we saw from the players and hey, who can blame them? There wasn't a real reward for winning the Pro Bowl but there was a major risk from getting injured in it. Players such as Drew Brees, J.J. Watt, Myles Garrett, and Tyler Eifert can all vouch for the risk, as they all suffered injuries in the game.

Robert Edwards had the worst injury in the Pro Bowl, blowing his knee out in a game of flag football before the actual game and never being the same kind of player.

The first-ever Pro Bowl Games was held in 2023 and will continue to be the format moving forward.

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