Many of the NFL’s top stars are unsure about the Pro Bowl leaving Hawaii for the mainland.
Next year’s Pro Bowl will be in Miami a week before the Super Bowl. The location after that remains uncertain.
The Pro Bowl is bidding aloha to the islands after Sunday’s game following a 30-year run.
“I just think you take away from everything the Pro Bowl means,” Ray Lewis said on Tuesday. “I don’t understand it all.”
The Baltimore Ravens linebacker, who played college football at the University of Miami, said he would “probably not” play next year’s game if selected.
Lewis, making his 10th Pro Bowl trip, said many players live in or visit Florida often, so playing there wouldn’t necessarily be a reward.
“That’s no vacation,” he said. “That’s what we regularly do. You don’t want to go to the Pro Bowl and do what you regularly do. You want to come over and do something different. You want to tour the islands and bring the kids over here to see something different.”
The NFL has been looking to increase the profile of the game.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell had called the Pro Bowl “a somewhat anticlimactic” ending to the season.
But some players feel the Pro Bowl could lose some luster by not having Super Bowl players participating in the game, since they’ll be busy preparing for the big game.
The Pro Bowl could end up rotating between Hawaii and the mainland.
The state has paid the NFL an average of US$4 million a game under their expiring five-year contract to host it. The Hawaii Tourism Authority and the NFL are in negotiations for Honolulu to host future games.
In Hawaii, the players and their families stay at a secluded hotel on the Leeward Coast of Oahu, an hour’s drive away from the bustle of Waikiki. After practice, they lounge by the pool, swim in the lagoons or go next door to play 18 holes of golf.
“If something is good, why do you want to change it?” Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning said. “I don’t know what the economic factors are that come into play, but I know the times I’ve come over here, it’s a special week.”