NEW YORK — After a promise from players that the game will be more competitive, the NFL will hold the Pro Bowl in Honolulu next Jan. 27, a week before the Super Bowl.
Commissioner Roger Goodell had made it clear canceling the all-star game was a possibility after the uninspired play of this year’s 59-41 AFC victory. Following discussions between the league and the players’ union, the NFL announced Wednesday that Aloha Stadium would host the Pro Bowl for the third straight year.
It will be the 33rd Pro Bowl in Hawaii.
“The players have made it clear through the NFL Players Association that they would like the opportunity to continue to play the Pro Bowl in Hawaii,” said NFL executive vice president Ray Anderson. “We will support the players on this initiative to improve the Pro Bowl. We have had many discussions with the players in recent years about the Pro Bowl and they recognize that the quality of the game has not been up to NFL standards. We look forward to working with the players toward the goal of improving the competitiveness of this season’s game.”
The Pro Bowl was held in Hawaii from 1980-2009. In 2010, the NFL moved the game to the week before the Super Bowl for the first time, and it was held in Miami, site of the Super Bowl that year. The Pro Bowl returned to Hawaii for the 2011 and 2012 games but remained one week before the Super Bowl.
“The players believe that the Pro Bowl is an important tradition,” NFLPA President Domonique Foxworth said. “We worked hard with the league to make sure the best players in the NFL are honored for their achievements on the field.”
Goodell expressed his displeasure with this year’s game several times, acknowledging it could be scrapped if the level of play doesn’t improve.
“The issue is we recognize it is an all-star game, but we also believe fans expect more from an NFL game,” he said recently. “If we believe we can achieve that, we want to give them every opportunity to do that.”
For last January’s game, TV ratings were strong, with 12.5 million viewers, making the Pro Bowl the most watched of all all-star games for the 2011 season.