The 2023 Pro Bowl is in the books and the reviews are starting to roll in on the weekend’s complete facelift.
Among the changes made to the league’s traditional All-Star weekend include 10 mini competitions, capped off by a 7-on-7 flag football game. This year’s roster also included a variety of resumes from up-and-comers to certified stars to down-and-out veterans.
From Eli Manning besting a very-upset Peyton from the sidelines to Equanimeous St. Brown cueing up his brother Amon-Ra to win the best catch competition, the younger brothers showed up in Vegas.
Unsurprisingly, the Diggs brothers were at the center of one of the best moments when Trevon picked off his older brother Stefon. The Bills wide receiver -- who later added a highlight-worthy touchdown -- blamed the turnover on the higher ups, but Trevon definitely won bragging rights for the day.
Speaking of the Diggs family, Trevon’s six-year-old son Aaiden continued to assert himself as one of the league’s most beloved personalities. For the past three years, Diggs has provided fans with numerous entertaining and endearing press conferences and mic’d up moments and his Pro Bowl debut was no different.
Diggs’ star shined brightest alongside some of the league’s other favorite little stars, including Micah Parson’s son, Malcolm, and Jets superfan Johnny.
With star players and future commissioner casting covered, all that’s left was the broadcast studio. Ten-year-old Jeremiah wowed players and coaches with a series of impressive interviews.
It wasn’t perfect (stay tuned for the ugly), but it was a step in the direction.
For years, the Pro Bowl was haunted by the stories of career-changing injuries to players like Robert Edwards and Tyler Eifert. Over time, many players opted to skip out on the event entirely. The ones who showed up often didn’t play at the highest level of competition and the event started to lose much of its luster. Hence, the change in structure.
Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett did reportedly leave with a dislocated toe, but otherwise it was a relatively injury-free event, keeping players -- and their coaches back home -- happy.
No one has less to lose than Tyler Huntley. In the five days since Huntley, Lamar Jackson’s backup, was named as Josh Allen’s replacement, the only thing the internet seems to be asking is “How?”
The 25-year-old appeared in six games for the Ravens this season throwing for an average of 67 yards per game and a QBR of 41.2. Simply, not Pro Bowl material. To his credit, however, he took the opportunity and made the most of it.
Huntley came in second in the precision passing contest on Thursday, losing to only Derek Carr. He carried that momentum into Sunday’s flag football games, recording 192 yards and four touchdowns.
Lamar Jackson’s status in Baltimore is currently up in the air, but the Pro Bowl might have provided Huntley -- a restricted free agent this offseason -- with some options.
Circling back to that injury prevention, it wasn’t all by the books. Whether it was just an innate competitiveness or inability to follow the rules, several plays looked a little less flag and a little more tackle.
Ramsey was called for an unnecessary roughness penalty, something probably not on too many people’s bingo cards heading into the day of flag football.
The verdict’s still out on the new Pro Bowl. Some were very complimentary of the changes and seemed to enjoy the more informal access to the players, while others -- especially those waiting to watch the Knicks and 76ers -- felt it dragged on too long.
The new format wasn’t an all-around loss and the players seemed to enjoy themselves, but it didn’t always translate well for the viewers back home. Assuming they plan on sticking with this new format, it’ll definitely require some refining going forward to keep fans engaged from start to finish.
Once Derek Carr pulled out the Griddy, it was time to say goodnight.
The longtime Raiders quarterback had the support of his soon-to-be former home crowd throughout the entire weekend, but his dance moves didn’t earn him many points on the free agency market.
The celebration dance that’s taken the league by storm was all over Allegiant Stadium this weekend. Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who popularized the dance in the NFL, did provide a wholesome moment with everyone’s favorite new sideline reporter.