The beleaguered NFL Pro Bowl (Jan. 26 on NBC) will try to get a jumpstart with a new format this year, eschewing the AFC vs. NFC matchup that’s been in place since 1971 in favor of a “fantasy draft” held Jan. 21-22 at 8pm ET on NFL Network. Pro Bowl players selected by fans, players and coaches will be put into a draft pool, regardless of their conference affiliations. The two leading vote-getters will pick their teams with help from NFL alumni Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders, and fan winners of the Fantasy Coach of the Year contest.
Press release from NFL Network below:
FIRST ANNUAL PRO BOWL DRAFT SHOW TUESDAY, JANUARY 21 & WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 22 ON NFL NETWORK
Team Captains Deion Sanders & Jerry Rice Draft Their Pro Bowl Teams on NFL Network
Tuesday at 8:00 PM ET – Centers, Guards, Interior Defensive Linemen, Fullbacks & Specialists Selected
Wednesday at 8:00 PM ET – Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Wide Receivers, Tight Ends, Tackles, Defensive Ends, Linebackers & Defensive Backs Selected
It’s Fantasy Football – for real!
For the first time, the Pro Bowl is “unconferenced,” with Pro Football Hall of Famers Deion Sanders and Jerry Rice serving as team captains.
The rosters will be determined on the first ever Pro Bowl Draft Show, Tuesday, January 21 & Wednesday, January 22 at 8:00 PM ET on NFL Network. Sanders and Rice will have final say over draft decisions, and will be assisted by two active player captains and one NFL.com fantasy football champion in the draft process. The four active player captains will be comprised of the top two leading vote getters on offense and defense from the teams that did not advance to the Conference Championship round of the postseason.
One of the fantasy football champions will earn their spot as part of Lenovo’s Fantasy Coach of the Year program, which provides NFL.com fans a chance to be rewarded for their fantasy football skills. The other champion can compete for a Pro Bowl role by playing at NFL.com/fantasy.
On Tuesday, Chris Rose hosts the one-hour show in which Sanders, Rice, and the player captains select the centers, guards, interior defensive linemen, fullbacks and specialists for each team.
On Wednesday, Rose hosts the three-hour show in which the quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, tackles, defensive ends, linebackers and defensive backs are selected. Reporters Stacey Dales and Michelle Beisner are on the scene to get reactions from the players after they are selected, while analysts Steve Mariucci and Marshall Faulk provide their thoughts on each pick.
The Pro Bowl will be played Sunday, January 26 and will be televised live on NBC at 7:00 PM ET from Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii. For the first time, players were selected without regard to conference in voting by fans, coaches and players.