Pro Bowl gets a makeover

Posted Jul 31, 2013

In an effort to make the Pro Bowl more entertaining, the NFL and NFLPA have made significant changes

Over the last number of years, the popularity of the Pro Bowl amongst NFL fans ranked somewhere around watching old game show reruns.

So, the NFL has decided to give the game a makeover in order of drumming up more interest.

Gone is the familiar AFC vs. NFC match-up that has existed since 1971. Instead, players will be selected without regard to conference through voting by fans, coaches and players. For example, the top six quarterbacks following voting will earn distinction as Pro Bowlers, regardless of which conference they are from.

Players will now be assigned to teams through the Pro Bowl Draft, in which two leading vote getters will join two fantasy football champions, who will attend the Pro Bowl and draft players.

Pro Football Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders will serve as alumni team captains, assisting the Pro Bowl team captains and fantasy football champions in the draft process.

"As players, we wanted to keep the Pro Bowl to honor excellence in individual performance and connect with the fans in a different environment," NFLPA President Domonique Foxworth said in a statement.  "To do that, I worked with a group of players to map out new ideas."

In addition, the game will also feature several other changes.

-- Game within the Game: A two-minute warning will be added to the first and third quarters and the ball will change hands after each quarter.  This will increase the opportunities for quarterbacks to direct "two-minute drills," which are especially exciting for fans.

-- No Kickoffs: The coin toss will determine which team is awarded possession first.  The ball will be placed on the 25-yard line at the start of each quarter and after scoring plays.

-- Rosters: The rosters will continue to consist of 43 players per squad.  The kick return specialist will be replaced by an additional defensive back.

-- Cover Two and Press Coverage: The defense will be permitted to play "cover two" and "press" coverage.  In previous years, only "man" coverage was permitted, except for goal line situations.

-- Stopping of the Game Clock: Beginning at the two-minute mark of every quarter, if the offense does not gain at least one yard, the clock will stop as if the play were an incomplete pass.  This rule will make the team with the ball attempt to gain yardage toward the end of each quarter.

-- Game Timing: The game clock will start after an incomplete pass on the signal of the referee, except inside the last two minutes of the first half and the last five minutes of the second half.

-- Play Clock: A 35-second/25-second play clock will be adopted instead of the typical 40-second/25-second clock.

-- Sacks: The game clock will not stop on quarterback sacks outside of the final two minutes of the game.  Currently, the game clock stops in these situations outside of two minutes of the second and fourth quarters.

The Pro Bowl player draft will air on Wednesday, Jan. 22 on NFL Network. The coaching staffs will be from the losing teams in the AFC and NFC Divisional playoffs with the best regular-season record. The game itself will take place on Sunday, Jan. 26 at Aloha Stadium.

Receiver Calvin Johnson, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and long snapper Don Muhlbach made the Pro Bowl from the Lions last season.