For the first time, the Pro Bowl will be "unconferenced," and several key playing rules have been changed for added excitement. Gone is the familiar AFC vs. NFC match-up that has existed since 1971. Instead, players were selected without regard to conference in voting by fans, coaches and players.
The 2014 Pro Bowl Draft will be nationally televised on January 21-22 with primetime broadcasts on NFL Network on Tuesday (8:00-9:00 PM ET) and Wednesday (8:00-11:00 PM ET).
Pro Football Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders will serve as alumni team captains for the Pro Bowl squads and have final say over draft decisions. New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees, Kanasas City Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles, St. Louis Rams DE Robert Quinn and Houston Texans DE J.J. Watt are also captains. Brees and Quinn will be part of Team Rice and Charles and Watt will be members of Team Sanders.
The Pro Bowl Draft will be held in Kapolei, HI on the grounds of Lanikuhonua, adjacent to the JW Marriott Ihilani Ko Olina Resort & Spa. All 88 Pro Bowl players are expected to be in attendance for Wednesday's live show. On Tuesday, January 21, 22 players (11 per team) will be drafted from certain position groups – guards, centers, fullbacks, interior defensive linemen, punters and special teamers. The remaining players will be drafted on Wednesday during NFL Network's live broadcast.
Fans can follow along with every pick of the Pro Bowl Draft in an exclusive second screen experience at www.NFL.com/probowl. Browse selected Pro Bowl players, view up-to-the-minute team rosters and weigh in on who should be the next pick. Post-draft, an interactive depth chart will preview all of the best matchups leading up to game day.
The 44-man teams are comprised of 21 offensive and 18 defensive players plus five specialists, including a long snapper. Team Sanders will be led by Chuck Pagano and the coaches from the Indianapolis Colts while Ron Rivera and the Carolina Panthers' coaching staff will guide the Team Rice Pro Bowl squad.
The NFL is the only professional sports league that combines voting by fans, coaches and players in determining its All-Star teams. The consensus vote of each group counts one-third towards the total. Each team submits two ballots – those of the coach and the players with no one permitted to vote for a player on his own team. This year, more than 100 million fan votes were cast on NFL.com and mobile devices.
Under terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each player on the winning Pro Bowl team receives $53,000, while each player on the losing squad earns $26,000.
The Pro Bowl was held consecutively from 1980 to 2009 at Honolulu's Aloha Stadium, moved to Sun Life Stadium in South Florida in 2010 and then returned to Hawaii in 2011.
Fans can purchase tickets to the 2014 Pro Bowl at www.NFL.com/probowl or www.ticketmaster.com. Fans may also call 1-800-745-3000 or visit the Aloha Stadium box office.
In addition to the above changes, several other aspects of the Pro Bowl will be new in 2014:
Offensive and Defensive MVPs – Media will choose two game MVPs this year – one offensive player and one defensive player. Each MVP will be presented with a new GMC vehicle, and an MVP medallion to commemorate the achievement.
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 now consist of 44 players per side, including an additional defensive back for roster flexibility.
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.