The National Football League said on Monday it has decided to replace its annual Pro Bowl exhibition match between All-Stars with a week-long skills competition and a flag football game starting next year in Las Vegas.
The new event is being called “The Pro Bowl Games” and will replace the traditional tackle football game with competitions between the AFC and NFC culminating in a February 5 game of flag football at the home of the Las Vegas Raiders.
The NFL, which is part of an effort to have flag football added to the program for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, said the new format will allow players to showcase their football and non-football skills in unique competitions in a fun way.
The last Pro Bowl was held opposite the Beijing Winter Olympics and was the least-watched in 16 years as it drew 6.69 million viewers across all platforms.
While flag football looks similar to tackle football, with passing and receiving, there is little protective equipment needed with play stopping when a defender pulls a cloth flag from the waist of an opponent.
Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning and his Omaha Productions company will help to shape programming and promote content throughout the week and also be a key part of the coaching staff for the flag football game.
The NFL said the changes were made after feedback from players, teams and fans about reimagining the Pro Bowl.
The Pro Bowl, which featured the league’s best players not involved in the following week’s Super Bowl, was largely played at less than full speed by players who were not interested in risking potential injury for an exhibition.