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The NFL’s Pro Bowl gets more than just a facelift

by AirTalk®

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Kyle Rudolph #82 of the NFC's Minnesota Vikings with the Pro Bowl MVP Trophy after the 2013 AFC-NFC Pro Bowl on January 27, 2013 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii. Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

Professional football’s all-star game, the Pro Bowl, got a shot in the arm Wednesday when the NFL announced changes to the contest. The AFC vs. NFC format that has been around since 1970 is out and a new fantasy football type draft will be in place. This year two Hall of Famers, Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders, will choose teams based on a a pool of players chosen by the fans. Conference affiliation will no longer be a factor. The actual game will also undergo some pretty big 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.

While the NFL itself continues to grow and draw record television audiences, the Pro Bowl has been criticized by fans and even the players themselves. Do you think these changes will make the game more interesting to watch? Do you tune in for the Pro Bowl each year, or does a game with no actual consequences not interest you? How would you change the Pro Bowl to make it more relevant?

Mike Pesca, national correspondent for NPR who frequently reports on sports

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