The COVID-19 pandemic, which has already altered the NFL season by forcing rescheduled games and shuffled bye weeks, has now claimed the Pro Bowl.
The league announced that the annual all-star game that is held each year before the Super Bowl has been canceled and will be replaced with virtual activities, in consultation with the NFL Players Association.
"The NFL and NFLPA's intention is to play a full regular and postseason schedule, culminating at the Super Bowl," the press release said.
Fans will still be able to vote for Pro Bowl rosters, beginning on Nov. 17 and the full, 88-man rosters will be revealed in December. The Pro Bowl selection process will remain unchanged and will be selected by consensus votes of fans, players and coaches.
AFC linebacker T.J. Watt of the Pittsburgh Steelers (90) celebrates his touchdown with teammates against the NFC in the 2020 NFL Pro Bowl at Camping World Stadium. (Photo: Steve Mitchell, USA TODAY Sports)
The 2021 Pro Bowl had originally been scheduled for Jan. 31, 2021, in Allegiant Stadium, the new home of the Las Vegas Raiders that opened earlier this season. In the announcement, the NFL also said it was awarding the 2022 Pro Bowl to Las Vegas.
This marks the fourth major element in the league calendar to be significantly altered by the pandemic. The 2020 NFL draft, which was also scheduled to take place in Las Vegas, was held virtually, the league canceled all preseason games and the regular season has already seen several postponements and schedule changes..
On Tuesday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a conference call with reporters that the league would continue to monitor the national situation when making future determinations on the league calendar.
"If there is one consistent theme to our season, it is flexibility and adapting," Goodell said. "Flexibility is going to be critical. We evaluate, obviously, as many different areas that we think will be at least helpful. Fortunately, we haven’t had to use many of the things that we have discussed and thought about."
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