The NFL is changing up their version of All-star weekend. Starting this season, the Pro Bowl game will feature a week of “skills challenges” culminating in a big game of…FLAG football!

Los Angeles Chargers v Washington Football Team
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The biggest complaint about the Pro Bowl has been that it’s already too much like a TOUCH football game. The stars aren’t keen on injuring themselves during a meaningless all-star game and who can blame them?

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They put life and limb on the line for 17 weeks out of the year…If they don’t make the playoffs. So, come Pro Bowl time nobody’s hitting anyone very hard.

Is there any way the fans will ENJOY watching a game of patty-cakes… I mean…flag football? Who knows? There’s no tackling in the NBA or Major League Baseball and people watch those sports.

Can you imagine if baseball USED to allow tackling and then stopped? In that alternate universe, fans would have been howling mad…”Whattaya mean I gotta watch something as boring as baseball WITHOUT any tackling??”

Newcastle Falcons v Saracens - Aviva Premiership
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This is where my conspiracy theory comes in: I think the Pro Bowl flag football is actually a trial balloon. It’s designed to see how much if any, interest there would be in watching non-contact football.

The NFL realizes that its business model of “pay athletes a ton of money to collide into one another and deny that it causes brain injury” is unsustainable. Sure, they’re still going to tinker with equipment and rule changes to be “safer”.

But, as long as 250-pound men are going to be crashing into each other at 40 mph (two guys each running 20 mph=40 mph, right?) brain damage will still occur.

I think this flag football experiment is to judge just how much no-contact football fans would be willing to accept.  Some fans already despise the “unprotected receiver” rule and the XFL of the 1990s didn’t allow fair catches on kick returns because some fans thought that was “too soft”.

NFL Pro Bowl
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So, maybe fans will still watch their favorite players even if they’re not tackling? I doubt many will, but I think the league would like to know anyway. I mean, it’s not like anybody was watching the Pro Bowl anyway.

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