As the NFL continues to try and make their annual All-Star game a more attractive draw for both fans and players, the league and the NFLPA today announced wholesale changes to the way the teams will be constructed and the contest will be played.
The AFC vs. NFC format, which has been in place since 1971, is now gone. Fan voting will determine the rosters, without regard for which conference the players play in.
For example, the top six vote-getting QB’s will now be the Pro Bowl quarterbacks, even if all six are from one conference.
Following voting, the top two vote-receiving players will be joined by two NFL.com Fantasy Football champions to draft the two teams.
The Draft will air live on NFL Network on January 22nd.
Other rules that are now in place:
• 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 continue to consist of 43 players per squad. The kick return specialist will be replaced by an additional defensive back.
• 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.
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