The 2011 AFC–NFC Pro Bowl 2011 will be the NFL's all-star game for the 2010 season. It will take place at 7:00 p.m. EST on Sunday, January 30, 2011 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The game is billed as the NFL's All Star game, but by putting the game smack dab in the middle of huge games played by what amounts to the league's top four teams, much of the star power is sucked out of the contest.
A whopping 22 players who were elected to the Pro Bowl have dropped out in advance of the game set to take place in Honolulu, Hawaii later today. That's an entire game's worth of players bowing out due to various reasons, be it injury, fatigue, or otherwise. To me, this is just one of the many signs that the Pro Bowl needs to once again be re-calibrated heading into 2011.
I understand that players drop out of every major league's all star game, and also concede that this would still be an issue if the Pro Bowl were to take place in the middle of the regular season.
But consider the fact that the league is looking to expand the regular season to 18 games as part of the new collective bargaining agreement. There is an ideal way to do this and also build in an added week of rest for players who are understandably concerned about the added wear and tear of an additional two games on their schedules.
Move the Pro Bowl to the middle of the season and have it serve as a legitimate All Star break, similar to what the other three major sports leagues do with their games. Players get a week of rest, even the ones that are elected to the game considering it's basically glorified flag football.
You also get more attention from more casual fans, as football season is only getting started, and fans of the lesser successful teams might be more invested in their squads than they would be in late January, a month after most teams' seasons ended.
To me that's at least a good starting point for how to handle the Pro Bowl in the future. Having it mid-season would get it more attention and more viewers, which is all the NFL ultimately cares about. It also would give the players an extra week of rest, which is a big concern for them.