As an Orlando resident and someone who has attended the Pro Bowl festivities in some regard for each of the three years as a media member and fan, I feel qualified to express this opinion that the Pro Bowl is necessary and fun, contrary to the opinion of the average NFL enthusiast.
Man, I am so pumped for the Pro Bowl.— Colin Daniels (@southstands303) January 25, 2019
That's not true, by the way.
Everyone knows the Pro Bowl sucks but some people have to defend it so twitter knows they’re a real fan of football— Bobby Fleckenstein (@Bobby_Fleck2) January 25, 2019
It’s no secret that Pro Bowl interest has waned in recent years, and the NFL responded by creating new ways to keep it fresh and unique.
The idea of creating “fantasy teams” led by NFL greats was a decent idea in theory, but not in execution. It works better on a smaller scale, like the NBA’s All-Star Game, but with large rosters it’s hard to create.
So the NFL reverted back to its previously-used AFC vs. NFC format when it moved from The Big Island in Hawaii to Orlando, Florida and Disney World — the happiest place on Earth — when it signed a three-year contract to hold the exhibition match at Camping World Stadium and practices at the ESPN Wide World of Sports, right next to Disney World.
When the game was in Hawaii, it was catered more for players than fans. It gave the players a chance to take their families on a nice vacation and a break away from the grind of the NFL season. However, when players began declining their Pro Bowl invitations on a consistent basis, an opportunity rose to repurpose the Pro Bowl by moving it to Orlando.
Players declining their invitations is not a problem that will go away any time soon. This is the first time any Texans have headed to Orlando to participate in the Pro Bowl. Every Texan declined
The move to Orlando was a smart one. Attendance was up from 2016 to 2017 because Central Florida is a popular tourist destination during this time of year due to the arctic temperatures the north provides. Even with school in session, families from all over the world flock down to Orlando to take their family to Disney. The Pro Bowl simply gives families another reason to head down to Florida for vacation.
Attending the Pro Bowl festivities is the ultimate fan experience. You get to see fans from all over the country come together to enjoy football and create memories, like this Texans fan did today:
With talk of moving the Pro Bowl back to Hawaii or Las Vegas, the NFL risks losing this family aspect of the event.
Hopefully the NFL looks long and hard at this Pro Bowl and brings it back to Orlando next season, because for a fan watching from home, it appears to be a boring, meaningless game of football. However, for those taking in the action, it’s an amazing opportunity to enjoy the true fan experience of the NFL.