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The Walt Disney Co. and the NFL are expanding on their relationship with Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions, tapping the former quarterback’s production company to help “shape programming” for a completely reimagined Pro Bowl.
For starters, the Pro Bowl (effectively the NFL’s take on the all-star game) will become a flag football game that will air on ESPN and ABC on Feb. 5, 2023. The shift to flag football from tackle football is a sea change for the NFL, but with some players opting out of the game entirely or playing very carefully to avoid injuries, the league decided to revamp the entire event.
Beginning next year, the Pro Bowl will be relaunched as “The Pro Bowl Games,” with the flag football game as the culminating event. The days leading up to the game “will also integrate new challenges where players showcase their football and non-football skills in unique competitions.” Verizon is the presenting sponsor of the event.
And that’s where Omaha Productions comes in.
Manning’s company will help shape the week’s programming, and Manning himself will serve as a coach during the flag game.
ESPN already has a deep relationship with Manning and Omaha, stemming from his celebrity-filled Monday Night Football alternate broadcasts, which he hosts with his younger brother (and fellow former quarterback) Eli Manning. The channel has since tapped Omaha to develop other alternate broadcasts for the PGA Championship, and for college football (with popular sports personality Pat McAfee hosting).
Now, Manning will get a chance to shape the NFL’s Pro Bowl, at a moment of enormous change for the event.
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