Originally written on This Given Sunday  |  Last updated 7/31/13

The Pro Bowl has for years still drawn large TV audiences, but only because it's an NFL event and whatever the NFL touches turns to gold. Now, they're looking to give the annual all-star game platinum status by making it more fan friendly. Dramatic changes are coming, starting this upcoming year in Hawaii. After 43 years of AFC vs. NFC, that's gone. Now, players will be elected broadly, not based on the conference they play in. Six quarterbacks, period. And then they'll be assigned teams via a draft, just like in the NHL.  Those in charge of drafting players will be contest winners, alumni and top vote-getters. Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders will be the alumni captains in 2014. The draft will take place on Jan. 22 on NFL Network, giving the league-owned channel another chance to shoot fish in a barrel in prime time.  The NFL has also decided to scrap kickoffs while giving defenses the ability to use cover-2 and press coverages. The game clock will run after incomplete passes outside of the final two minutes of the first half and the final five minutes of the second half. Additionally, a two-minute warning will be added to the end of each quarter, with the ball changing hands at the conclusion of all four of them. Random, but an interesting attempt to increase excitement.  The NFL might be grasping at some straws here, but it really can't hurt to try something new. Nobody respects the Pro Bowl as is, and nobody will be offended by these changes. It's just a silly exhibition game anyway.

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