The Pro Bowl is getting a much-needed face-lift.
The often dull all-star game between players from the AFC and NFC is being overhauled, beginning with the game that will be played at the end of this upcoming season. The biggest change will be to the rosters as players will no longer represent their conference but be selected in a fantasy draft-style selection process several days before the game.
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"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. "To do that, I worked with a group of players to map out new ideas."
The new structure was announced on Wednesday by the NFL and NFLPA in a statement that said the changes would make the Pro Bowl "the ultimate fan-friendly celebration of the game."
The sides will be drafted by Hall of Famers and honorary team captains Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders along with the two leading vote-getters in the league and two fans who are fantasy football champions of leagues on NFL.com.
Participants will be selected by position based on voting by fans, coaches and players as they have been in the past. Each roster still will include 43 players, but instead of a kickoff returner there will be an extra defensive back. Why? Oh yeah, the kickoffs are being eliminated. The ball will start on the 25 yard line at the beginning of each quarter and after each score.
There also will be a two-minute warning at the end of each quarter to facilitate more hurry-up offenses.
"The players made it clear that they wanted to continue the Pro Bowl and were committed to making it better than ever," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said.