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NFL, union make Pro Bowl alterations

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Big changes are in store for the Pro Bowl.

The NFL and NFL Players' Association announced Wednesday that the new format will no longer included AFC vs. NFC, replaced by captains randomly selecting 43 players for each team not based on conference affiliation.

Voting will no longer be done according to conference. Once the players are selected, the two leading vote-getters will be named captains and choose their teams with the assistance of Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders and two NFL.com fantasy football champions.

The draft for the 2014 Pro Bowl will be Jan. 22. The game is set for Jan. 26 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.

"As players, we wanted to keep the Pro Bowl to honor excellence in individual performance and connect with the fans in a different environment," NFLPA president Domonique Foxworth said in a statement. "To do that, I worked with a group of players to map out new ideas."

Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league welcomed the suggestions from the players.

"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," Goodell said in the statement.

Among other changes are the elimination of kickoffs for safety reasons (possession will start at the 25-yard line after a score or quarter) and:

-- A two-minute warning for the first and third quarters, increasing the opportunity for two-minute drills. Possession will change after each quarter.

-- Defenses will be allowed to play Cover-2 and press coverage and not just man-to-man that was only allowed in the past except in goal-line situations.

-- An additional defensive back will replace a kick return specialist on the rosters.

-- At the two-minute mark during each quarter, if the offense does not gain at least 1 yard, the clock will stop similar to an incomplete pass, forcing offenses to try to gain yardage.

-- The game clock will start after an incomplete pass on the referee's signal except during the final two minutes of the first half and the last five minutes of the second half.

-- The play clock will be shortened to 35 and 25 seconds from the current 40/25.

-- The game clock will not stop on sacks except in the final two minutes of the game.

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