NEW YORK (AP) - The NFL Pro Bowl rosters for next year will be selected in a draft, with Deion Sanders and Jerry Rice assisting as alumni captains.
The league will abandon the AFC vs. NFC format that has been in place since 1971 when the game is played Jan. 26 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu. The NFL said Wednesday that fan voting will determine the players in the Pro Bowl draft pool. The draft is to be televised by the NFL Network on Jan. 22.
Other changes are coming to the game, too.
The ball will change hands at the end of each quarter, which could double the opportunities for two-minute drills. Also, kickoffs will be eliminated - teams will start on their own 25-yard line. Defenses will be allowed to play cover-2 and press coverage in addition to man-to-man, and several clock tweaks have been instituted to speed up the game and prompt offensive play.
"As players, we wanted to keep the Pro Bowl to honor excellence in individual performance and connect with the fans in a different environment," NFL Players Association president Domonique Foxworth said in a release issued jointly by the league and the union. "To do that, I worked with a group of players to map out new ideas."
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in the release: "We were very receptive to the ideas that Do-monique and the players put forth. 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."