PHOENIX — If you liked the NFL’s Pro Bowl game pivot this year, you can, apparently, thank Russell Wilson.
And if you didn’t like the Pro Bowl’s new flag football format? As NFL commissioner Roger Goodell put it, well, you can still thank Russell Wilson.
Goodell credited the Denver Broncos’ nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback as a voice who advocated for the league’s all-star game to ditch its traditional tackle format in favor of a flag game. Speaking Wednesday from his Super Bowl week state of the league news conference, Goodell referenced a call he received after last year’s Pro Bowl.
“I think it was Russell Wilson who called me the Tuesday afterward and said, ‘Let’s play a flag game,’” Goodell said. “When I was there on Thursday, the players were wonderful. They loved it. They were embracing it. They thought this was a great forum.”
The Las Vegas-based event featured eight skills competitions across two days, as well as seven-on-seven flag football. The NFC team won 66-57, led by Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith’s 14-of-16 passing for 239 yards and five touchdowns, as well as Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb’s six catches for 102 yards and two touchdowns.
Expect more flag football in 2024 — and beyond.
“I think we have a lot to build on, and I don’t see us going back in any way,” Goodell said. “This is the future for us. Flag is such an important initiative for us with boys, girls, men and women.
“There’s just an opportunity here for us to grow our game globally with flag football.”
Follow Yahoo Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.