NEW YORK » The NFL will consider dropping the Pro Bowl if the level of play doesn’t improve, Commissioner Roger Goodell said Monday night.
Appearing on SiriusXM NFL Radio’s “Town Hall,” Goodell agreed with host Michael Strahan that last January’s Pro Bowl “was embarrassing.”
“If we cannot accomplish that kind of standard (of high play), I am inclined to not play it,” Goodell said. “It is really tough to force competition, and after a long season, to ask those guys to go out and play at the same level they played is really tough.”
The league still would select a Pro Bowl team through voting by players, coaches and fans, because it is an honor, but “just not play the game,” he said.
The Pro Bowl will take place in January, a week before the Super Bowl, after the players lobbied to keep it, promising to upgrade their performances. Goodell and others were disappointed in the quality of last year’s Pro Bowl, won 59-41 by the AFC and missing any semblance of hard hitting.
More from Goodell:
— The league is working on scheduling more East Coast games involving West Coast teams in late-afternoon slots to avoid what amounts to a 10 a.m. kickoff for the western teams.
“Several of our teams on the West Coast have raised that and we have been studying it,” he said. “We have tried to put as many of those games on the East Coast at 4 p.m. You can imagine the thousands of different issues you have to put into the schedule. But the 10 o’clock starts are pretty tough.”
— He praised teams for making it possible for fans to text concerns about unruly behavior to stadium security.
“Allowing you to text to security personnel rather than having to get an usher, that is a plus to fans,” said Goodell, who recently sat with his family in the stands at a Titans-Vikings game in Minneapolis. “The arrests are down and ejections are up. Our teams are ejecting fans who are unruly. And arrests (being) down is an indication that fans are getting the message.”
— Explained the NFL’s studies of potential developmental leagues for players and officials. He said if the schedule format ever drops two preseason games, there will be more discussions on the subject because teams will have a more difficult time determining the makeup of rosters.
He added the NFL is looking for more ways to train on-field officials and for them to have interaction with players, citing college football, Arena Football and the CFL as places that could happen.
Going to an 18-game regular season with two exhibition games remains a point of contention with the players’ union. But Goodell admitted to having “an issue with the preseason.”
“Our fans don’t like watching the preseason games, attending the preseason games, so we have to evaluate the season format,” he said, “and that is one way of looking at it: 18-2. Or go to 16-2 or some other alternative; take two of those (preseason) games and make them more developmental.”
— Said three regular-season games abroad is not out of the realm of possibility. Next year, for the first time, the league will play two games in London.
As for a franchise abroad, he added: “I wouldn’t at all be surprised some day to see us have a team in London.”