The two-week break between the conference championship games and Super Bowl really leaves some football fans in a state of withdrawal. At least there’s the Pro Bowl, right?
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the answer to that question in 2021 is a “sort of.” There’ll be a game, but not in person. Since Zoom couldn’t handle a football game, apparently, the NFL had to turn to the well-established Madden NFL franchise to stage the game.
Some would say the league should’ve started doing that a long time ago. Snoop Dogg will even be on a controller for a portion of the game. You’re telling me that’s not better than professional athletes not attempting to tackle each other because they play a very violent sport and this is just an all-star game?
While the NFL will surely try to bring the Pro Bowl back in 2022 as a real football game, this could be the beginning of the end for that. It’d probably be more entertaining to watch NFL players react to moves their virtual selves pull off in Madden, anyway.
So anyway, if you’re trying to watch this revamped version of the Pro Bowl, we’ve got all the details below, along with the rosters that’ll be taking part.
Is there an NFL Pro Bowl this year?
There is an NFL Pro Bowl this year — sort of.
There will be no actual, real-life Pro Bowl football game played in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pro Bowl rosters were chosen and will play against each other, but it will take place in EA Sports’ Madden NFL 21, the latest in the popular video game series.
What time does the Pro Bowl start?
- Date: Sunday, Jan. 31
- Time: 3 & 5 p.m. ET
The Pro Bowl coverage for 2021 will come in two parts. First, at 3 p.m. ET, there’ll be a “Pro Bowl Celebration” on ESPN and ABC. It will include roundtable discussions with NFL legends along with both Joey Bosa and DeAndre Hopkins breaking down football film for younger viewers.
The (Madden) Pro Bowl itself will start at 5 p.m. ET as a streaming event on the NFL’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channels along with EA’s Madden Twitch channel.
This is the usual date that the Pro Bowl would take place, the Sunday between conference championship Sunday and Super Bowl Sunday.
What channel is the Pro Bowl on?
- TV channel: ABC, ESPN
- Live stream: NFL’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channels; EA’s Madden Twitch channel
For those looking to watch the actual Madden stream of the Pro Bowl, you won’t find it on terrestrial television. Rather, you’ll have to use one of the NFL’s streaming platforms or go to EA’s Madden Twitch channel. That game begins at 5 p.m. ET.
The action taking place on ABC and ESPN starts at 3 p.m. ET and features various roundtable and other NFL discussion, but it won’t feature any actual gameplay. That can only be found on the various live streams beginning at 5 p.m. ET.
Who is playing the Madden Pro Bowl game?
This won’t just be a Madden simulated version of the Pro Bowl. Big names will be controlling each team in a battle for conference supremacy.
Controlling the AFC side will be Snoop Dogg, Deshaun Watson, Derrick Henry and Keyshawn Johnson. Hopefully Watson doesn’t request a trade mid-game.
The NFC players will include Bubba Wallace, Marshawn Lynch, Kyler Murray and Jamal Adams. If we’re handicapping by assuming younger age helps Madden prowess, the NFC has the advantage with all four players younger than Johnson and Snoop.
AFC Pro Bowl roster
NFC Pro Bowl roster
Pro Bowl replacement players
Because there’s no actual football game being played for the 2021 Pro Bowl, there’s no need for replacement players. Everyone can be healthy in the Madden video game.
A year ago, there were 17 replacement players for the Pro Bowl, so this season allows a lot fewer players to actually refer to themselves as Pro Bowlers. Conversely, it doesn’t allow the league to make up for a snubbed player by inserting him as a replacement.