The effort and level of play in Sunday's Pro Bowl could determine whether the games remains part of the NFL schedule is eliminated.
The quality and effort in last year's Pro Bowl was bad enough that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers criticized it publicly and then in August discussed the future of the game with Roger Goodell when the commissioner's tour of training camps took him through Green Bay.
Ray Anderson, the NFL's executive vice president of football operations, told reporters this week that the league probably will decide by April whether to continue with the game.
"Our hope is that the players will give the same effort and energy that allowed them to become roster members of this Pro Bowl," Anderson said according to the AP.
Anderson said the league has considered conducting alternate football events instead of a game, such as skills competitions and seven-on-seven games. But the league found those options unattractive for mass audiences.
According to a report on NFL.com, Denver quarterback Peyton Manning's speech at a dinner attended by all the players included a plea that they play so that the game will continue after this year.
"Peyton said it best," Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey was quoted by NFL.com. "The players who have played in this game are in the Hall of Fame. If they get rid of this game, guys are going to miss out. You won't even know who you played against because you never get a chance to meet them. It's good for that reason and many others."