Game On: Players Agree To Play Harder In Pro Bowl, Game Returns To Hawaii For '13
After an apparent pledge from the players “to make the Pro Bowl more competitive, the NFL said it is returning game to Hawaii for 2013,” according to Ferd Lewis of the HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER. The game will be played Jan. 27 at Aloha Stadium, "one week before the New Orleans Super Bowl, and shown on NBC.” The future of the annual all-star game “had been in doubt after a lackluster effort by the players” in the ‘12 game. In addition, comments by Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie questioning the worth of the event in the state "had overshadowed the 2012 game.” The Pro Bowl has been held at Aloha Stadium “every year except 2010 since 1980 and the 2012 game was the final one under the Hawaii Tourism Authority's deal with the NFL.” Lewis notes New Orleans “had also been under consideration as a site for the game if it was to be held in 2013.” NFL Exec VP/Football Operations Ray Anderson in a release said, “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.” He added, “We have had many discussions with the players in recent years about the Pro Bowl and they recognize that the quality of the game has not been up to NFL standards. We look forward to working with the players toward the goal of improving the competitiveness of this season's game" (STARADVERTISER.com, 5/30). NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal wrote there were “serious discussions about canceling the game after the quality of play deteriorated in recent years.” But it “sounds like the players wanted to keep the game afloat” and the TV networks likely agreed as the game “gets great ratings” (NFL.com, 5/30). USA TODAY’s Nate Davis writes players “enjoy the paid vacation to Hawaii … but seem much less enthused about playing it outside tropical confines.” The league “tried to drum up interest in the Pro Bowl by holding it in South Florida” before Super Bowl XLIV in ’10. However, the players “made it clear they could basically go to Florida any time they wanted” (USA TODAY, 5/31).
RATINGS ARE RATINGS: ESPN's Adam Schefter noted the Pro Bowl is still the "highest-rated All-Star game of any of the All-Star games played in any sport." Schefter: "It attracted huge numbers and (NFL Exec VP/Media) Steve Bornstein, combined with the players, did not want to kill off a game as popular as it is. We can criticize the Pro Bowl all we want, we can say what a joke it’s become -- and it has -- but the bottom line is people like to tune in in late January on a Sunday night and watch this game. The ratings have supported it” ("NFL Live," ESPN, 5/30).