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NFL revamping Pro Bowl, ditching AFC vs. NFC for fantasy-type draft format

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(USA Today Sports Images)

Instead of dumping the Pro Bowl, the NFL is trying to jazz it up with a new format.

The traditional AFC vs. NFC matchup has been eliminated. It will be replaced by a fantasy-style draft, with captains Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders, Pro Bowl team captains and two NFL.com fantasy football champions picking the two teams from a pool of players that was voted in, the NFL said. ESPN was first to report the format change.

The question is: What will more people be interested in, the Pro Bowl draft, or the Pro Bowl game?

This could revitalize the Pro Bowl, which has been plagued over the past couple years with terrible effort from the players and threats from Roger Goodell that he might do away with the game. The Pro Bowl still gets great ratings, so there was obviously a lot of desire to keep the game going.

The players will be voted into the game by fans, coaches and players, but not by conference. The top six quarterbacks will be voted in, like normal, but all of them could come from the same conference.

The draft will be Jan. 22 next year and televised on NFL Network, and the game will be Sunday, Jan. 26.

The NFL also said it is having a two-minute warning at the end of the first and third quarters and possession will change at the end of every quarter, giving fans more opportunities to watch teams play in the two-minute drill. There are also a few other changes, such as kickoffs being eliminated, zone coverage by defensive backs being allowed and a shorter play clock.

With the draft format, now the game has an interesting wrinkle, much like the way the NHL all-star game drafts its teams. The debate over which quarterback gets taken first or any surprise pick by either team should get more attention than the Pro Bowl has had in many years.

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