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Rule Changes and Dodgeball Take Over at the 2020 NFL Pro Bowl

The stars of the 2019 NFL season will take the field one final time at the 2020 Pro Bowl. Players not playing in the Super Bowl, or players recovering from injury, will travel to Orlando to face off in the NFL’s All-Star game. To be selected to the 2020 Pro Bowl, players must be voted in based on votes from coaches, fellow players, and the fans.

Much like other major sports leagues, the Pro Bowl will feature players from the AFC facing off against players from the NFC, remaining true to a more traditional format compared to a Pro Bowl draft the NFL had tried to use in the mid-2010s.

Some of the notable players from the AFC in this year’s Pro Bowl include MVP-favorite Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry, and Ravens tight end Mark Andrews. Some stars from the NFC include Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russel Wilson, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot, and New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas, coming off of a record-setting season.

While the official Pro Bowl rosters are typically set in December, players are often subbed out due to injury, and replaced with those who were voted in as alternates. For example, Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey was selected to the Pro Bowl as a starting running, but due to injury he will sit out of the Pro Bowl and will be replaced by the first alternate, Alvin Kamara.

Players preparing for the Super Bowl will also skip the Pro Bowl including Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. He was selected as a starting quarterback for Pro Bowl, but will be replaced with Comeback Player of the Year front-runner Ryan Tannehill of the Tennessee Titans.

One of the new rules that will be added to this year’s Pro Bowl is the elimination of kickoffs to both speed up and prevent injury during the game. Taking a page from the former professional league the AAF, teams that score will now give the opposing team the ball at the 25-yard line. Additionally, the ability for teams to attempt an onside kick has been completely removed from the game. Instead, teams will now have the chance to convert one attempt at a 15-yard play, in which converting the necessary 15 yards regains possession of the ball.

This idea was proposed at the 2019 NFL Owner’s Meeting, but did not get the necessary votes to make its way into the NFL rulebook. The 2020 Pro Bowl will give the NFL and its personnel the opportunity to experiment with rule changes that attempt to speed up the game and make it more exciting for fans.

Slingers can watch the 2020 Pro Bowl on Saturday, January 25th, at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN.