2021 Pro Bowl will be played in Las Vegas
The NFL announced Tuesday that the 2021 Pro Bowl will take place in Las Vegas at the new home of the Raiders, Allegiant Stadium, on January 31.
For the last three years, the Pro Bowl has been played at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida. The venue for this season's All-Star Game will put the NFL's newest stadium and market on full display.
"We look forward to partnering with the Raiders and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority to bring the excitement of Pro Bowl week to our Las Vegas fans and community for the first time," Peter O'Reilly, NFL EVP of club business and league events, said in a statement. "We thank the city of Orlando for its outstanding partnership in helping us to grow and evolve the Pro Bowl over the last four years. To our partners at Florida Citrus Sports, Camping World Stadium, ESPN Wide World of Sports, and Visit Orlando, we appreciate your tremendous efforts over the years and look forward to creating more memorable moments together in the future."
The weeklong event will include various activities in Las Vegas, including the NFL FLAG Championship games, team practices for both the NFC and AFC teams and the Pro Bowl Skills Showdown.
"The Raiders welcome the NFL Pro Bowl to Allegiant Stadium and to Las Vegas, the Sports and Entertainment Capital of the World," Raiders president Marc Badain said. "Pro Bowl week is a celebration of the best the NFL has to offer and there is no better place than Las Vegas to celebrate and honor the league's biggest stars. The NFL, the LVCVA and the Raiders look forward to a world class event that will set the standard for future NFL events in Las Vegas."
Las Vegas was originally supposed to host the 2020 NFL Draft, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the draft was done as a remote, virtual experience. The city will now host the 2022 draft instead.
View photos of the Giants' active roster as it currently stands.
Goodell discusses adapting to changing circumstances on ESPN's 'The Return of Sports' Special
On Monday night, ESPN hosted a conversation with commissioners from the top U.S. sports leagues regarding the resumption of competition amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"SportsCenter Special: The Return of Sports" consisted of Commissioners Roger Goodell (NFL), Adam Silver (NBA), Rob Manfred (MLB), Gary Bettman (NHL), Cathy Engelbert (WNBA) and Don Garber (MLS).
Goodell touched on several topics in his conversation with ESPN’s Mike Greenberg, including the decision to not push the start of free agency or the draft.
"It was difficult for all of us to sort of predict even a couple days in advance," Goodell said Monday. "But our approach really Mike, was to stay on schedule, to do the things that we do in the offseason but, adapt and change and do things under the circumstances that we needed to do to keep all of our personnel safe. Whether they were team personnel or players or perspective players, with our Draft eligible players. So staying with free agency, to make sure that we went through that process, I think our fans loved it. It was something, it was distraction from what everyone was going through.
"Of course, the Draft was extraordinary. We could not have been happier. We had great partners in ESPN in the way we pulled that off from a technical standpoint and even our clubs who had some reservations going into it. I think they really came away and said, 'this was a great experience, we learned a lot, we did it within the guidelines established, we kept everyone safe.' And I think that once again we proved that we can bring everyone together and we had a great opportunity to be able to really do something great for the people on the frontlines that were going through so much and helping us so much. It's been a different offseason for us, it should be but, it has also given us the chance to show that we can adapt and do things right."
While the offseason has run as smoothly as one could hope given the circumstances the country is facing, the NFL will soon encounter the contact portion of the year as teams prepare for the start of training camp. It was reported Monday that several players on the Texans and Cowboys, including running back Ezekiel Elliott, tested positive for the coronavirus. However, Goodell said that the positive tests don't change the league's plans for the start of camp, and that more should be expected as testing becomes more available around the country.
"All of our medical experts indicated that as testing becomes more prevalent, we are going to have positive tests," Goodell said. "Our players are going to be in that, our personnel are going to be in that, our league office employees are going to be involved. So, positive tests are going to happen. The issue is can we, obviously, prevent as many of those from happening but, in addition, treat them quickly, isolate them and prevent them from impacting other personnel.
"So, none of those players were in the facilities. All of those players, fortunately, have had either mild symptoms or were asymptomatic, and I think our protocols are working. And again, we expect we are going to have positive tests. That is part of the increased testing that we will be going through and that is something that we just want to make sure that our protocols are working and to date, we are seeing very positive reactions in the sense that we are making sure we respond quickly, protect the personnel that may be impacted by that and others that may be in contact with them."
Darius Slayton eyeing big Year 2
Darius Slayton is coming off quite an impressive rookie season. After missing the first two games of the year, the 2019 fifth-round pick went on to catch 48 passes for 740 yards and eight touchdowns, matching Tennessee's A.J. Brown for the NFL rookie lead in touchdown catches.
His eight touchdowns are tied for the third-most by a rookie in franchise history, two behind Bill Swiacki (1948) and four off Odell Beckham Jr.'s record set in 2014. He also ranks fifth in receiving yards and is tied for sixth in catches on the Giants' all-time rookie leaderboard.
Slayton said his goal heading into Year 2 is "playing with a tremendous amount of confidence." At this time last year, he was working to erase the first impression he gave at rookie minicamp, where he couldn't catch a football, let alone a tennis ball.
"My confidence is something that built as the year went on last year," said Slayton, who caught five of his eight touchdowns and had both of his 100-yard games (121 yards at Jets and 154 at Philadelphia) in the second half of the season, in an interview with Giants.com. "Hopefully this year, I'll be able to hit it Week 1 running. It's mostly internal. It's just all in your head to me. Especially for receivers, to get the ball you've got to catch it, catch it low, high, behind you. I think it just starts from having unwavering faith in your hands basically."
Slayton and a handful of Giants skill players recently worked out in Texas with Daniel Jones, another promising sophomore. Jones led all rookies in touchdown passes in 2019 with 24, three shy of the NFL rookie record set by Baker Mayfield in 2018.
"[The chemistry] is growing. Right now we're working on him consistently answering the phone," Slayton joked. "That's kind of the next step in our relationship. He's gotten better. I know he's working hard. I'm working hard where I am, and I know we're both ready to be back together [at the facility]."
View the best images from Darius Slayton's breakout 2019 campaign