NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was very close to canning the Pro Bowl a little less than 12 months ago. Now, after drawing more than 11.4 million viewers on Sunday night, the future hasn’t looked brighter.
Goodell and the NFL enhanced the Pro Bowl this season, making serious changes to the roster configurations as well as to the rules of the game to try and raise the interest level. Clearly, the alterations worked, at least this time, as a large number of fans actually tuned in to watch Team Rice’s last-minute 22-21 win against Team Sanders, which seems to have pleased the commish.
“You have to admit it was very competitive,” Goodell said on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike in the Morning, per Pro Football Talk. “Exciting. Fun. I think the players played much harder.”
The improved competition level and TV ratings certainly gives the NFL reason to be optimistic about the game’s future, which Goodell acknowledged on Monday. Although, he didn’t sound quite ready to sign off on the game long-term, at least not yet.
“I believe it was a very, very positive step,” Goodell said. “I salute the players.”
Even with eight combined turnovers and just 43 combined points scored, this year’s Pro Bowl managed to be arguably the most entertaining one in years, and Carolina Panthers running back Mike Tolbert‘s game-winning two-point conversion in the final minute was just the icing on the commissioner’s cake.