NFL Pro Bowl returns from the dead as an esports event

God bless Elizabeth Lambert

Electronic Arts

Here’s the good news for hard-core fans of the National Football League: the annual best-in-the-world showcase known at the Pro Bowl is going ahead this year. But before you grab your Wisconsin Cheesehead hat and start warming up the car for the drive to Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, it’s not all sunshine and Budweiser for traditionalists. That’s because we’re getting an esports Pro Bowl for 2021.

With COVID-19 continuing to scorch its way across North America, the NFL accepted that it was going to have to cancel the real-life version of the event last month.

Pro Bowl is an all-star game

First, let’s quickly revisit what the Pro Bowl is, namely an NHL All-Star game-like showcase for football fans. And by football, we’re not talking that game played by Mr. Posh Spice, amateur exhibitionist Hope Solo, and indescribably awesome ass-kicker Elizabeth Lambert.

Instead, we’re dealing with the American pastime played with a pigskin, and where, inexplicably, the owners are the first people the Vince Lombardi trophy is handed to at the end of every Super Bowl.

But back to the Pro Bowl. Taking the attitude that the show must go on in some fashion or other, the NFL and Electronic Arts have pivoted to a simulated event using Madden NFL 21 as the platform.

A mix of certifiable NFL all-stars, former football legends, gridiron-obsessed celebrities, and random streamers will do battle on Madden NFL 21 for a week leading up to the game. Then comes the main event: the AFC and NFC conferences squaring off with virtual reality Pro Bowl players working the controls.

Fans pick the players

Fans get to pick the players by checking out the 2021 Pro Bowl roster here. You will also be able to vote through Madden NFL 21 on your preferred gaming console, and well as on Twitter from December 1-17.

In making the esports Pro Bowl announcement, EA vice-president Chris Bruzzo said this: “We are transforming the Pro Bowl for fans everywhere and bringing another amazing NFL experience to life in the way only Madden NFL can. We’re excited to work closely with the NFL, our long-time partner, to move the Pro Bowl to the virtual fields of Madden NFL and be part of the first high-profile sporting event to go virtual.”

He continued with: “Our community is hungry for more interactive experiences, so we are always working to create more opportunities to bring them closer to the sports they love.”

Should you be cheesed about not being able to attend the Pro Bowl in person, the NFL is promising a real-life version of the event will take place at Allegiant Stadium in 2022. Dare to dream.

Mike Usinger once took the better part of two years to finish Grand Theft Auto. Over the course of his career he has written about everything from eSports to music to movies to travel.

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