Yes, flag football. If you haven’t heard, the NFL is changing it up in the Pro Bowl this year, replacing the traditional 11 on 11, fully padded, full-contact matchup with three 7 on 7, flag football games. Let’s break it down.
The teams will still be AFC vs. NFC, as always, but there will be 27 skill position players selected per team. Sorry, linemen. The game will be shortened to just 20 minutes, separated into two 10-minute halves, with a running clock. The length of the field has also been shrunk down to just 50 yards, and each team will begin its possession from the offense’s 5-yard line. Each team will have four downs to pick up 20 yards. If the team picks up the first down, they will have four more tries to put the ball in the end zone.
Scoring touchdowns will still reward the offense with six points. The point after, however, has been tweaked a bit. If the offense can convert from the 3-yard line, it will be rewarded with one point. If the offense goes for two, it can attempt to score from the 10-yard line.
Why did the NFL change it up? If you are asking that question, you have probably never watched the Pro Bowl, and I don’t blame you. The Pro Bowl has been a joke in the NFL for years when it comes to competitive football. Mac Jones was hitting the Griddy at last year’s Pro Bowl, so the NFL had no choice but to change the way the game was played. Fortunately, Mac Jones will be nowhere near the Pro Bowl this year, so I think we’re safe.
Will this be a good idea? To be honest, I do think that this will make the Pro Bowl more fun for players now that they don’t have to worry about taking a helmet to the chin from Budda Baker or Derwin James. However, I am more excited about the skills challenges.
Thursday, Feb. 2, players from each conference will face off in a variety of sports-related challenges. First is “Epic Pro Bowl Dodgeball presented by Bud Light.” Even the name is pretty nelk. The second is the Lightning Round, which is pretty difficult to explain, but you may see a water balloon hit Peyton Manning in his enormous forehead. Bud Light is also presenting the third event, “Longest Drive.” In this event, four players from each conference will compete to drive a golf ball the furthest distance off a tee.
In the final two events is where we might see Kirk and Jefferson, as Madden Mobile presents “Precision Passing.” Each conference’s two quarterbacks and one non-quarterback will battle it out in a one-minute accuracy competition, trying to hit as many targets as possible. I swear to god, if Kirk somehow does not hit a target, you will not hear from me for an entire year. Anyways, the last event of Thursday’s festivities is “Best Catch,” where the rules don’t matter and Justin Jefferson will win just by wearing cool sunglasses or something.
On Sunday before the flag football game is played, four more skills challenges will be played. The ‘“Best Catch” finale will be performed, as the top vote getters from Thursday’s contest will come back to perform again in front of celebrity judges. The Gridiron Gauntlet is an obstacle course where six players from each conference will compete in the four-part challenge. Hey, linemen, this one’s for you! “Move the Chains” will feature two teams from each conference pulling heavy weights using first-down chains. The last event of not is “Kick Tac Toe,” where each conference’s kicker, punter and long snapper will get a chance to be a part of the action. Let’s go Andrew DePaola.
The skills competitions will have cumulative scoring leading up to Sunday’s flag football games. The winner of each skills challenge will earn their team three points, and the winner of the first two flag football games will earn six points. The points add together to be the score at the beginning of the third and final flag football game, which will determine the winner of the 2023 Pro Bowl Games.
Cousins, Jefferson, Dalvin Cook (somehow), T.J. Hockenson, Za’Darius Smith, Danielle Hunter, and Andrew DePaola will be the seven players representing the Vikings in this year’s Pro Bowl, so if you want to see these guys play one more time before we all vomit for three straight hours watching the Super Bowl, go check out the Pro Bowl Games! Thursday’s events start at 6 p.m. Central Time on ESPN, and Sunday’s agenda begins at 2 p.m. CT.
Oh, also Rae Sremmurd will be performing, if that matters. Skol.
Write to Hayden Lee at Hayden.Lee@mysmsu.edu