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Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Moving Pro Bowl time, place makes sense

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

The National Football League's plan to move the time and place of the Pro Bowl, as first reported by the Associated Press, may make the all-star game relevant.

The plan is to move the 2010 game to South Florida, the site of the Super Bowl, and play the Pro Bowl the Sunday before the Super Bowl. This is supposed to be a one-year test, but it sure sounds like the league plans to go to some sort of rotating system where the Pro Bowl would be held in Super Bowl cities some years and Honolulu in others. And once the league tries playing the Pro Bowl the week before the Super Bowl, that's not going to stop.

Since 1980, the Pro Bowl has been played in Honolulu. It's been a very nice event and the state of Hawaii and the city of Honolulu have done a great job rolling out the red carpet. But the Pro Bowl has been on an island of its own and that's not just because of geography.

It's been an afterthought because the game is meaningless and nobody really cares about what's essentially a flag-football game the week after the Super Bowl. Putting the game the week before the Super Bowl won't really give it any more meaning and it will keep players from the two conference champions out of the all-star game. But, a lot of times, those guys pull out of the game anyway.

The simple fact is playing the game before the Super Bowl would put it at a time when people still care about football. Doing it in the Super Bowl city would add to the weeklong party that already is the Super Bowl and draw more attention to the Pro Bowl.

Keep Honolulu in the rotation and, maybe throw in an international destination (which has been talked about) at some point, but mix things up. Officials in Hawaii have estimated 25,000 people come from out of state for the Pro Bowl. That's great, but moving the game up and around could actually make millions care about the Pro Bowl.