The COVID-19 pandemic has forced some major adjustments from varying sports leagues over the past year. What the NFL has decided to do with the Pro Bowl takes the cake, though.
Sure, the game itself has become stale and meaningless. It hasn’t been fun to watch for awhile now, and that had already forced changes. This, however, is next level.
According to reports from ESPN, the NFL is going virtual with it. Instead of an actual Pro Bowl, it will now be a Madden 21 tournament that will air on live TV. No, we are not kidding. This is actually happening, and I am just as shocked about it as you are.
So, here is the rundown, according to the article on ESPN:
- Deshaun Watson, Derrick Henry, Keyshawn Johnson and Snoop Dog will represent the AFC
- Kyler Murray, Jamal Adams, Marshawn Lynch and Bubba Wallace will represent the NFC
- Each participant gets one five-minute quarter using official AFC/NFC rosters
- The event will air on EA Madden NFL Twitch channel, plus NFL’s social media accounts
- It will be hosted by Charissa Thompson and Michael Strahan
- Gamers such as Ninja, FaZe Swagg, AustinShow and AMP will host watch parties for it
The event will take place on Sunday at 5 p.m. ET, if you actually want to tune in. Will I? Eh, I don’t feel good about this, folks. I might check in for part of it just to say I was there, but this feels like something that should’ve been canceled.
Yes, the COVID-19 pandemic made a normal experience with an in-person game or skills events impossible. But doesn’t this feel like another attempt at the H.O.R.S.E. tournament on ESPN from back in April? Good in theory, but terrible in practice.
Granted, this will be a much better product than the H.O.R.S.E. fiasco, but I have serious reservations about the entertainment factor. The Pro Bowl is supposed to be about the fans — they’re the ones who vote on it, right? If I choose to stick around, it’s probably going to be because of Snoop Dogg.
“We’ll be taking the Pro Bowl to the virtual world of Madden this weekend and I can’t wait to do it big with football fans in my favorite game,” he said in a media release explaining the particulars of the game, via ESPN. “I’m a Madden NFL star. So Kyler and Marshawn better watch out, my team is comin’ in to win that championship title for the AFC.”
Ah, the inevitable trash talk trying to build some sort of excitement. It’s a good thing Snoop had that legendary commentary on Jake Paul knocking out Nate Robinson a couple months ago. It might be the only thing that can save this event.
Oh, and who thought it would be a good idea to include Bubba Wallace in all this? Didn’t that guy just lose a sponsor after rage-quitting a virtual iRacing event back in April?
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.