NEW YORK (Reuters) - The fate of the National Football League’s annual Pro Bowl remains uncertain amid growing speculation the All-Star game could be suspended next year or possibly scrapped altogether.
ESPN initially reported that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who had publicly expressed his concern about the quality of football being played in the game, was considering shelving it.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed on Friday the league was discussing the future of the game but said nothing had been decided yet.
“We have been in discussions with the Players Association about the future of the Pro Bowl,” he said. “No decisions have been made.”
Under the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement, the NFL and the Players Association would need to reach agreement on the fate of the Pro Bowl.
The Newly elected NFLPA president Domonique Foxworth confirmed the talks with the NFL but said he was in favor of retaining the game.
“The Pro Bowl is an important tradition we are in talks with the league to improve and preserve the game for our players and fans,” he tweeted.
The Pro Bowl, which is supposed to pit the best players from the AFC and NFC against each other, started in 1970, although different versions of the All-Star game date back as far as the 1930s.
Unlike other North American sports which play their All-Star games mid-season, the NFL’s showpiece is held at the end of the regular season, a week before the Super Bowl.
While being selected for the game is one of the highest honors in the NFL, participation is voluntary so many of the best players choose not to play.
Played almost exclusively in Hawaii for the last three decades, the game has been criticized as amounting to little more than an exhibition.
This year’s game, which the AFC won 59-41, was heavily criticized for its lack of hard defense, with even Goodell saying he believed it reflected poorly on the league.
Reporting By Steve Ginsburg; editing by Julian Linden