By Matt Johnson

Pro Bowl Linemen

With the first pick in the 2013 Pro Bowl Draft, Deion Sanders selects…….Aaron Rodgers. This could very well happen after the big announcement made by the NFL and NFL Players Association earlier today. After years of fans, media and players complaining about the AFC vs. NFC Pro Bowl format, a change has finally been made.

The “All Star Draft” is just the headlined of many new significant changes that will be made with the Pro Bowl in 2013 as the NFL hopes they can turn the Pro Bowl from being universally hated by many into something star players might actually participate in and fans will turn on their televisions for.

One rule that came as a surprise to many is the elimination of the kickoff and taking away a free ticket to Hawaii for kick returners. The removal of the return man will open up a roster spot for another defensive back. The new rule means that the opening coin toss will determine who gets first possession of the football. The offense will start with the ball at their 25-yard-line each quarter. It is disappointing to see one of the more exciting plays in football taken away, but it could be a sign of things to come.

Kickoffs have always been an injury concern for the NFL and earlier this offseason the idea was floated of eliminating them from all games. The idea was quickly met with anger from players and fans. The new rule likely could be a test run that could eventually develop into a rule for pre season games as the NFL may continue to test how eliminating kickoffs could impact a game.

The NFL also announced significant changes to the Pro Bowl involving the pace of the game and the game clock. The first change is the addition of the two-minute warning in the first and third quarters. The new “two-minute drill” rule bring the up-tempo pace of actual two-minute drills and hopefully more excitement to the game.

Several changes were also made to the game clock and when the clock is stopped. Whenever there is an incomplete pass, the game clock will start on the signal of the referee, except inside of the last two minutes of the first half and last five of the second half. The clock will also stop with two minutes remaining in any quarter if the offense fails to advance the ball a yard.

The game clock will also not stop on a quarterback sack outside of the final two minutes of the game. The play clock also will undergo a change from its current 40-second/25-second clock to 35-second/25-second clock.

But the biggest new change was obviously the draft and it is something NFL fans can thank the NHL for. For years the NFL has let the AFC and NFC battle it out for “supremacy” but now we get to see a fantasy draft. Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders will serve as alumni captains with the help of two NFL.com fantasy football participants.

The NFL and NFLPA hope these changes will make the game a “fan-friendly experience” and hopefully can draw more support from the players. Fans definitely should be excited about the possibility of Aaron Rodgers throwing passes to A.J. Green and Calvin Johnson while playing against Clay Matthews and Joe Haden.

The first Pro Bowl Draft will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 22 on NFL Network with practices taking place the following days leading up to the Pro Bowl. Only time will tell how this new format plays out for players and fans but it is nice to see the NFL trying to make changes to the exhibition game.

 

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Matt Johnson

I am a sports writer entering my first year in college. I am also a aspiring sports radio host.

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