Earlier this month the NFL announced that the Pro Bowl would be moving to Orlando, Florida for 2016 season. The move comes after the league's all-star fixture spent 35 of the last 37 years in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The NFL Pro Bowl officially began back in 1951 and follows the Conference vs. Conference concept. That is, the best of the NFC versus the best of the AFC. However, given that the game takes place following the completion of the regular season and post-season playoffs, the players' lack of effort has become one of the main drawbacks from what should be a must-see event.
The Pro Bowl's established ties with Hawaii have often meant that players are able to travel with their families and enjoy their time as though it were a vacation. Because of this, tackling and aggression, two qualities that make the game of football so great, have often been voluntarily moved to the back seat. Today, players fear the unnecessary injury and need to exert any more energy than they feel is required. As a result of this, the league originally opted to freshen things up for the 2013 season.
For the first time the Pro Bowl entered an un-conferenced format whereby players were grouped into one draft pool and selected by their team captains. Additionally, various rule-changes also took place in an effort to increase appeal and interest with the fans. For example, defense must play a 4-3 formation at all times in order to encourage more one-on-one plays.
However, the league's venture into un-conferenced territory was short-lived, and will now be reverting back to its original NFC vs. AFC format for the 2016 season. The move to Orlando is a risky one but the NFL is no doubt hopeful that this relocation will regain lost popularity with the fans.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has previously stated that the game needs to improve if it is to stay on the NFL calendar. So will these changes save the future of the Pro Bowl? Let's hope Orlando is the answer.