Posted July 31, 2013

Pro Bowl changes include ‘fantasy draft’ format, no more kickoffs and more

Pro Bowl
Pro Bowl 2014 will feature several modifications

The upcoming Pro Bowl will eliminate the AFC-NFC divide and kickoffs. (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

The Pro Bowl continues to haul in substantial TV ratings for the NFL, year after year, but the tedious AFC-vs.-NFC format and a constant stream of players backing out of the game has left the league searching for a way to upgrade the experience.

What it’s come up with is this:

Starting with the upcoming Pro Bowl, to be held on Jan. 26 in Hawaii, the NFL will scrap the conference setup in favor of a “fantasy-like draft,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported. NFL Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders each will captain a team, with the selection process airing Jan. 22 on NFL Network. (The NHL All-Star Game has televised its ‘fantasy All-Star draft’ since it moved to this format in 2010.) Each team will consist of 43 players (same number as previously allotted to the AFC and NFC), but kickoffs no longer will be a part of the game itself.

Other modifications:

• Defenses will be allowed to use Cover Two and press coverage. In previous years, only man coverage was allowed outside of goal-line situations.

• A two-minute warning will be added to the first and third quarter and the football will change hands after each quarter. The NFL is hoping this increases the frequency of two-minute drills.

• A 35-/25-second play clock will be used instead of the typical 40-/25-second clock.

These are drastic changes for the NFL’s All-Star Game, but it is at least an attempt to spice up what has become a rather monotonous affair. So far, it sounds as if this will be a one-time change, with the NFL gauging the success of the adjustments before deciding whether to make a permanent switch.

The game again falls the week before the Super Bowl, meaning that any players participating in that game will be excluded from the festivities, even if they are named to the roster. These updates also do nothing to stop players from backing out of the game due to nagging injuries, either, be they serious or not.

But the lead-up to the game will have a little more juice now, even if the product on the field itself still constitutes little more than a glorified practice.

46 comments
WilyCoyoteSuperGenius
WilyCoyoteSuperGenius

Does the NFL really need to squeeze out every last penny possible with this joke of a "game?" I find it hard to believe anyone actually watches this game, no one I know does. If I was a player there is zero chance I would risk injury for the pittance it pays. If I was a team owner I sure wouldn't want my multi-million dollar stars in this charade. 

The "game" will finally end when a Brady or Manning goes down with a career ending injury.

dbum
dbum

i still like the idea of setting up competitions between the position groups. 

have qbs competing for who can throw the farthest + fun accuracy tests, like who can hit a trashcan consistently. you could have receivers and runningbacks race each other so we finally know who is the fastest (talking to you chris johnson), could have one of those physics machines that records the level of impact in a dummy to see what LB hits the hardest,  kickers trying to hit the field goal from 60+ yards, and so on and so forth. 

you could still have the game but i think this would be a lot of fun for the players and fans, and their would be less of an injury concern for the players, which inevitably keeps the brightest stars at home.

6marK6
6marK6

Make it a game between NFL players arrested in the last year against players not arrested in the last year. The not arrested team can borrow some players if needed,

Bjornagast
Bjornagast

Oh, well. With Deion Sanders as a captain, you KNOW the NFL is taking this seriously. 

cpi8888
cpi8888

Make it Canadian rules with only 3 downs and no illegal forward motion

Fifilo
Fifilo

Net result unchanged: no one will care.

6marK6
6marK6

I like how this idea is not some stupid contrived nonsense.

Mag533
Mag533

Just dump this charade.  I remember when it meant something and now it is nothing but a sideshow with a bunch of clowns.

OverEd
OverEd

They still play the Pro Bowl?

KristianColasacco
KristianColasacco

If you want people to watch the Pro Bowl, change the name to "Hot Chicks Dancing Naked".  

RaySexauer
RaySexauer

Just stop it already.  The pro bowl is the biggest joke in sports

GumpsterWorsley
GumpsterWorsley

My Uncle Art, who was a Pennsylvania football star in the 1930s, once said to me (concerning any drastic changes in the game of football), "You can put lipstick on a pigskin, but it's still a pigskin." LOL

Karen10
Karen10

HAVE THE PRO BOWL AFTER THE SUPERBOWL! !!!!!!!!!

dmorrisssey
dmorrisssey

Why not just play a football game under NFL rules with the best players in the game?

NickPirce
NickPirce

New Pro Bowl format is following the NHL model for All Star games

C-TownC
C-TownC

Why not set up a short field on a street and put streetlights, fire hydrants and parked cars in play?

RobertJacke
RobertJacke

One more modification tackling would be nice, instead of two hand touch.......

CobyPreimesberger
CobyPreimesberger

plus 2 other people that will be picking, could be you could be me, as also in this fantasy football draft 2 fantasy football champions will also be helping deion, jerry and the two captains.  I swear this game is more like arena football, where it would be more suited fo an indoor game.  I mean the getting rid of the kcikoff in the Pro Bowl is likely the only the start and they will likely try to make that a rule for regular games

Frank27
Frank27

what the NFL really needs to do is make the game count. keep it as NFC vs. AFC and whichever league wins gets home field in the Super Bowl the following week. come on, I know everyone thinks this is a great idea.

randomdeletion
randomdeletion

The NHL televises their fantasy all star draft?  On what a podcast?  It certainly can't be on television as hardly anything to do with the NHL is actually on tv.  Rightfully so considering .005% of Americans give a crap about that sport.

I like the idea though.  That will certainly make it more interesting for the players and that is what they need to do to make it more interesting for the fans.  I still say if they want a more competitive game award the winners $1 Million each and the losers $50K.  The drastic difference in prize money will certainly make them more competitive.  It really is that simple.

209cat
209cat

"And if no clear winner emerges from all of this, the two-man sack race will be held on consecutive Sundays until a champion can be crowned."

swidt
swidt

So somebody will get to be the last guy picked.....and it will probably be the first time in that guy's life he was last to be picked for a sports team.

muser
muser

This just doesn't work. A sport that is about violent collisions just won't translate in a meaningless game. Just scratch it altogether...The NFL might not be far behind anyway...

slowmotionriot
slowmotionriot

Why not switch it up further and have the Pro Bowl participants only be those players who did not make the PLAYOFFS. Play both Championship games on a Sunday, and have the Pro Bowl be that Saturday. That way you still have the 2 weeks empty before the Super Bowl for media coverage, story creation, etc..?

KristianColasacco
KristianColasacco

Wait.  admittedly, I didn't read this for details but am I to understand that the entire pro bowl rosters now come down to the opinions of only two people, and one of them happens to be an idiot?

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

"The Pro Bowl continues to haul in substantial TV ratings for the NFL, year after year,...". Okay, I'll believe them, but I've not seen a single play of a pro-bowl since, maybe, the 1970's. As an informal poll, who DOES watch? And what is the attraction? I  found it very boring. 

Fifilo
Fifilo

@C-TownC3 complets = 1 first down, 2 first downs per drive. 5 Mississippi.

DanaBunner
DanaBunner

@randomdeletion They can't pay the winners $43M for one game.   But I agree in principle.  Paying the winners like $150K each and the losers $25K, or nothing, would make a difference.

mollymeggleston
mollymeggleston

@randomdeletion i watch the nhl allstar draft every year, that and the skills competition are way more interesting than the actual game


swidt
swidt

....unless he's the kicker.

Glenn8
Glenn8

Mac and Smokey - I love football and agree with muser 100%. The Pro Bowl does not work. It needs to be scrapped.

Smokytreetop
Smokytreetop

Exactly!!! The NBA all-star can still b entertaining without players hurting each other, you can't play football soft and still b entertaining. Scratch it!

help4mac1
help4mac1

@muser Spoken like a true hater. Go comment on ping pong.

MarkDiGiacomo
MarkDiGiacomo

@slowmotionriot - the Pro Bowl needs to go back to being after the Super Bowl, that way SB players can still participate, can even attend...right now SB players named to Pro Bowl don't even attend the game, let alone participate.

MarkDiGiacomo
MarkDiGiacomo

@KristianColasacco - I read elsewhere (espn I think) that the 2 highest overall vote getters will also be captains (team with Rice and Sanders) as well as 2 special fantasy football winners to help select the teams.  It maybe could be playground style, where the person previously picked makes the next pick.

mnvols
mnvols

@Rickapolis it does; according to who?  While i find all the all star games boring across the board, I haven't watch the pro bowl since Warren Moon was with the Houston Oilers.  In Nashville this year, the pro bowl got a .7 rating according to the local sports talk station.  While I love football in general and have season tickets to an SEC team, not me, not my family, and not any of my football friends give a crap about the pro bowl.  This format might make it a bit more interesting.

KristianColasacco
KristianColasacco

@MarkDiGiacomo @KristianColasacco I remember a few months ago that I read this exact idea in either Peter King's or John Clayton's mailbag and the idea was mocked relentlessly by readers as being horrendously stupid. 

Apparently someone at the NFL saw it and said "Awesome idea!". 

I think I'll stick with the readers on this one.