Yesterday afternoon was the first Sunday without a real football game since August, yet I watched the new Pro Bowl games. It was even nice to see some Cowboys players even have a few fun moments during the game.
This year, the NFL changed the format by eliminating the traditional game and replacing it with three flag football games played on a 50-yard field and a series of skills competitions.
Each of the first two flag games was worth six points, and each skills event was three. The total points were accumulated to form the score entering the third and final flag game.
The change in the format is pretty simple. The hope is to keep players healthy and not risk an injury in a game just for fun. A few players declined the invite because they didn't think it would be enjoyable, but outside of a few odd competitions, it was decent.
Outside of Tony Pollard, who was hurt in the playoff loss to the 49ers, all six other Cowboys players made an appearance.
CeeDee Lamb had a few touchdowns during the game including a 32-yard touchdown catch from Geno Smith on fourth-and-7 during the first flag game. He caught six passes for 102 yards to lead all NFC pass catchers.
Micah Parsons, Zack Martin, Trevon Diggs, DeMarcus Lawrence, and KaVontae Turpin joined the fun in either the flag games or the skills competitions.
Diggs had a moment he and his brother Stefon Diggs will remember forever.
The AFC got a little tricky, throwing a backward pass to Stefon Diggs before he tried to throw it to a teammate in the end zone, and Trevon Diggs picked him off and very nearly returned it for a score.
The AFC had the edge in the skills events, winning five of the eight competitions spread out over two days that included a strength contest and a best catch showdown, but the NFC won two of the three flag football games to give them a 35-33 win over the AFC.
Even with the new format, the game saw 58,331 fans show up to watch — 2,000 more than last year.
I'll be honest. I probably wouldn't pay to watch this type of Pro Bowl in person, but eating lunch on my couch while I watched on TV wasn't bad.
The Diggs play was my favorite play of the day, but I would much rather watch a football game over a format like this. I enjoyed the old style in Hawaii, where they played the actual game. Then had a handful of skills completions completely separate, but I understand the reason for the change.
“Overall, it was a very cool experience,” Arizona Cardinals Safety Budda Baker said. “It was definitely a good experience for the fans to be able to see our faces since we're always in helmets. It was really good to interact with them.
“So, yeah, let's keep it going for sure,” Baker said.
We are coming to the end of the football season, and it is time to look ahead to what the Cowboys can do to improve their roster next year, but the seven that made the Pro Bowl should play a big part in the team next season.