After years of complaining and lackluster “games,” the NFL wised up and scrapped playing an actual football game for the 2023 Pro Bowl. Instead, the league announced in September they planned a slew of challenges and mini-games to take its place. Now, the NFL has released its events during Pro Bowl week and honestly, they look like a blast.
Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, here’s how players will compete in this year’s Pro Bowl.
That’s a lot of text – which doesn’t scream fun, I know – so here are the highlights.
Dodgeball – AFC pitted against the NFC. Four teams of five players in a multi-round battle. The final match will be an AFC squad against a NFC team.
Longest Drive – Four players from both the NFC and AFC will tee off and see who can drive a golf ball the furthest. Each player gets three swings. Whoever wins gets three points for his conference.
Best Catch – Two players from each conference will try to come up with the most dazzling and creative catch. The first round will be prerecorded catches voted on by fans with the top two vote-getters competing live on Sunday, judged by a panel of celebrities to determine who wins.
Kick Tac Toe – I don’t know exactly what that’s going to look like but teams of specialists (kickers, punters, and long snappers) playing a game of Tic Tac Toe.
Those are just some of the events included and you can click above to read the rest. A flag football game will round out the weekend’s events.
Sure, it’s all a little cheesy and corny and some of the challenges will work better than others. But it’s different, fun, and captures the spirit of the Pro Bowl. Not some lame two-hand touch game that drags on for four quarters and everyone is hungover and just trying to not get hurt. This reminds me of the days of past NFL competitions. Larry Allen on the bench press, the 40 yard dash, memorable moments like that. Those won’t be part of the 2023 version but what the NFL has planned is a step up from the old and stale format that clearly wasn’t working.
The two current Steelers in this year’s Pro Bowl are OLB T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick. Several Steelers are alternates: OLB Alex Highsmith, DT Cam Heyward, TE Pat Freiermuth, and FB Derek Watt. They could get the nod due to Super Bowl participation and injuries.