The NFL Pro Bowl: Should the Premier League have an All-Star Weekend?

Picture this: it’s Saturday 28 May 2022.

The dust has just settled on the latest Premier League season.

However, instead of moping around wondering how you’re going to fill the void in your life for the next two-and-a-bit months, you’re settled down on the sofa watching what can only be described as poetry in motion.

Kevin De Bruyne looks up.

Harry Kane has dropped deep, drawing in a pressing Antonio Rüdiger, which has freed up space for Sadio Mané to make an inside run.

Mané is rapid but the defending Kyle Walker, rushing back after making yet another marauding run forward, is quicker.

The gap is closing, so De Bruyne must act and act now.

Not a sweat on his brow, despite the soaring Floridian heat, the Belgian arrows in a picture-perfect pass, directly into the path of the pacy winger.

Mané’s first touch controls the ball, his second sends it high into the air.

Such is Ederson’s tendency to confuse himself into thinking he’s a midfielder, the keeper is off his line, so can only stop in his tracks, helpless, as the ball sails over his head.

Walker stops. Mané stops.

The hearts of all of us watching on at home simultaneously stop.

The ball, after what seems like an eternity of switching between being definitely in and definitely out, finally falls.

The back of the net rustles.


Roars erupt around the stadium, phones record, friends join together in chorus.

Mohammed Salah, who should be sinking to his knees in exasperation as to how his team has blown a two-goal lead, instead stands and applauds, such is the beauty of what has just unfolded in front of him.

A goal worthy of winning a match between the league’s very best.


Of course you are.

Unfortunately, such an event doesn’t exist.

However, the American football equivalent does and takes place at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas this Sunday.

The NFL Pro Bowl pits the very best of the NFC and AFC against one another – minus those featuring in the Super Bowl the following week.

Monumental bragging rights are up for grabs in this annual event, with players representing their teams and their conferences, but also individually fighting for the right to be crowned offensive or defensive MVP.

It’s the ultimate fan-pleaser, with their league’s finest not only going head-to-head in a standard game at the weekend, but also participating in a variety of different events throughout the week.

These additional events, which include a fastest-man sprint challenge and a dodgeball game, are specifically designed to answer those theoretical debates we’ve all had with our mates over the years.

One of the newer additions is the ‘Best Catch’ contest, where NFL receivers will attempt the most creative, challenging and audacious catches, upon which they will be scored by a panel of celebrity judges.

Now, take a second to imagine that in a footballing context.

Surely James Ward-Prowse is receiving perfect 10s as he sticks his free-kick top bins?

Who’s the league’s speed demon now that Adama has departed?

Most important of all, who would win in a league-wide tournament of Wembley singles?

These are the questions that an All-Star Premier League weekend could answer; unsolved mysteries that would leave many spectators salivating.

Why then, is such an event not a reality?

Well, aside from the old adage of, in a game of North vs South, where do you stick Wolves and Aston Villa (which could be resolved by a simple captain’s picks system), the principal issue is that of player welfare.

With a winter World Cup on the horizon, Premier League teams are extremely unlikely to agree to release their players for an optional event where they could run the risk of picking up an injury.

After all, they’ve only just managed to get a winter break introduced to release some of the pressure caused by fixture congestion, with Premier League teams sometimes playing up to 60 games per season.

However, although such an event is certainly not on the horizon any time soon, it’s not entirely implausible that one might come to fruition in the years to come.

The demand for such an event would be enormous.

Millions would tune in to watch and Romelu Lukaku is among those to have publicly declared their interest in participating.

This would generate remarkable amounts of revenue, which could be funnelled back into grassroots football, with the rest divided among the teams without a representative in the All-Star game, to avoid repeat dominance from the ‘big 6’.

The introduction of a Premier League Hall of Fame hints at a wider Americanisation of the beautiful game and a Pro Bowl-style contest marries in well with this.

Plus, with it only being a one-off game, it’s not a radical proposal either.

If the current scrapping of FA Cup replays became a permanent measure, a Premier League All-Star fixture could be introduced without causing significant disruption to the footballing calendar.

One could and should be introduced.

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