The NFL's Pro Bowl format will undergo a dramatic change before the next game is played in 2014, effecting both the way in which the game is played and how the teams are selected.
The new format, which is based on proposals from the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), was announced Wednesday by NFLPA President Domonique Foxworth.
Rather than the usual NFC vs. AFC matchup, which has been in place since 1971, players will be selected without regard to their conference in the 2014 Pro Bowl.
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The game will be based on the school-yard model in which two players will be responsible for choosing the teams.
The players who receive the most votes from fans on NFL.com will be responsible for divvying up the teams and will be assisted by two NFL.com fantasy football champions.
The top vote getters will also be assisted by Pro Football Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders who will offer their advice 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," Foxworth told NFL.com
. "To do that, I worked with a group of players to map out new ideas."
Other changes in the 2014 Pro Bowl are:
A two minute warning at the end of the first and third quarters, giving way to ball possession changes at the start of each quarter.
Additional two-minute warnings that will likely lead to more quarterback directed "two-minute drills" which will make the experience more exciting for fans, NFL.com reported.
No kickoffs during the 2014 Pro Bowl.
Consequently, the receiving team will get the ball on their 25-yard line at the start of each quarter, after a score or following a coin toss. Each team will be allowed an additional defensive back in place of the eliminated kick return specialist position.
"Man coverage" will no longer be the only form of defensive coverage permitted in the game, meaning "cover two" and "press coverage" will also be allowed in the 2014 Pro Bowl.
The game clock will no longer be stopped after a sack or an incomplete pass, except for when it occurs within the final two minutes of every quarter.
Additionally, inside the final two minutes of every quarter, the game clock will now stop whenever the offense gains less than one yard. The change is another attempt to make the game more exciting to viewers, encouraging teams on offense to gain yardage at the end of each quarter, NFL.com notes.
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Lastly, the play clock – the time allotment between when a play ends and when the offensive team must put the ball back in play – will be shortened from 40 seconds to 35 seconds, to increase the rate of play.
"We were very receptive to the ideas that Domonique and the players put forth," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "From there, our office worked closely with him in developing the concept. The players made it clear that they wanted to continue the Pro Bowl and were committed to making it better than ever. We think these changes will enhance the game for both fans and players."
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