- Eugene Tanner/AP
The NFL announced on Monday its plans for a “re-imagined” Pro Bowl week this January, which will feature a “Skills Showdown” that includes a hands competition, a relay race, and a dodgeball game.
Unlike in past years, this year the Pro Bowl will return to an AFC vs. NFC structure. And over the course of the week, teams from the two conferences will square off in a variety of new competitions as part of the larger aforementioned “Skills Showdown.”
In other words, it’s like your summer camp’s Color War except with NFL players.
“Each team in the Skills Showdown will feature a mix of quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, linemen, linebackers, and defensive backs,” the NFL said in the announcement.
Competitions will include:
- “Epic Pro Bowl Dodgeball: Pro Bowlers will compete in a game of dodgeball. Power Relay Challenge: Four team members will compete in a timed relay race. Precision Passing: Two players on each team will battle it out, trying to hit moving targets of varying size and distance. Best Hands: Quarterback and wide receiver duos from each team will show off their skills, connecting on as many pass attempts as possible before time runs out.”
There will be four team captains: Jerome Bettis and Ray Lewis in the AFC, and Tony Gonzalez and Charles Woodson in the NFC.
The NFL’s reasoning here is fairly transparent: why not spice it up! The Pro Bowl has never been an exciting event, much less is it culturally relevant in the way the NBA’s All Star Weekend is, and there are several fundamental reasons why that’s the case: it takes place one week before the Super Bowl; the best players don’t show up; it’s an inherently violent sport that doesn’t cater to your typical half-speed All-Star Game MO, etc.
It’s hard to imagine this new format changing any of those. On the other hand, dodgeball sounds legitimately fun!