NFL Pro Bowl Games Preview
After years of tinkering with the format of the Pro Bowl, the NFL decided to switch the annual all-star game from a traditional 11 versus 11 tackle football game to a seven versus seven flag football game in what the NFL is calling the Inaugural Pro Bowl Games.
With this systemic change to the event, the NFL has also changed how it will determine the winner of the Pro Bowl. This year each skills competition is worth three points for the winning conference, with a total of 24 points being awarded.
The event will begin on Thursday with the first phase of the skills competition.
The two events that have to do with football are the Precision Passing Challenge, where the six quarterbacks will compete against each other in a one-minute accuracy competition.
The other is the Best Catch competition, where two players from each conference will compete in what essentially will be the NFL’s version of the dunk contest. The highest scorers from each conference will compete in a second round on Sunday.
For the non-football events, there will be a longest-drive competition where four players from each conference will compete to drive a golf ball the furthest off the tee.
Another is the Lightning Round, where 16 players from each conference will compete in a three-part event.
The first event is Splash Catch, where teammate pairings from each conference will throw water balloons back and forth while the distance increases.
The second event is High Stakes, where players will attempt to catch punts from a JUGS machine to earn a spot in the final event.
In the final event, Thrill the Spill; players will try to hit targets connected to a bucket above the head of the opposing coach. The first team to dump the bucket on the other coach will win the points for their conference.
On Sunday, the second part of the Pro Bowl Games will occur with the first two flag football games. Those two games are worth six points each for the winning conference, with 12 total points awarded.
There will also be additional skill competitions Sunday as well. The second part of the Best Catch will be head-to-head, where a panel of celebrity judges will declare the winner.
Kick Tack Toe will be returning where the kicker, punter and long snapper compete in a field goal competition with the rules of tick tack toe.
There will also be a Gridiron Gauntlet where six players from each conference will compete in a side-by-side relay race showcasing the player's agility, speed and strength.
In the final competition, Move the Chains; four teams (two from each conference made up of five players) will compete against each other in a weighted wall pull.
Then before the third and final flag football game, the points will be added up, and whatever that total is will be the score to start the game. Whichever conference ends up winning the game will be declared the winner of the Pro Bowl Games.
It will be interesting to see if the NFL views the weekend as a success or continue to tinker with an event that will likely never be as competitive as the league wants it to be.
Ben Palillo is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.