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NFL Pro Bowl to adopt NHL All-Star Game ‘fantasy draft’ format

Jul 31, 2013, 3:40 PM EDT


On Wednesday, the National Football League announced sweeping changes to its annual All-Star event — the Pro Bowl — which included a new format first implemented by the National Hockey League.

The NFL will conduct a “fantasy draft” at the Pro Bowl, ditching the traditional AFC vs. NFC format while adhering to the “players pick the players” idea started by the NHL in 2011.

Here’s the official statement, from

Players will be assigned to teams through the Pro Bowl Draft, in which two leading vote getters will join two fantasy football champions — who will attend the Pro Bowl — to draft players.

The fantasy football champions will have Hall of Fame help. Pro Football Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders will serve as alumni team captains, assisting the Pro Bowl team captains and fantasy football champions in the draft process.

“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. “To do that, I worked with a group of players to map out new ideas.”

The NHL’s first-ever All-Star fantasy draft occurred during the 2011 contest in Carolina. The format was slightly different as players voted on captains — Niklas Lidstrom and Eric Staal — and they were in charge of selecting the teams.

In 2012, Zdeno Chara and Daniel Alfredsson were selected as captains.

The Pro Bowl draft will air on Wednesday, January 22 on NFL Network. Four days later, the game will be played at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii, televised by NBC.

  1. sunk500 - Jul 31, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    Bah. I miss the old East vs West format and rivalry. This new selection system is beyond dumb. I rather have them pick random sticks.

    • anotheryx - Jul 31, 2013 at 4:00 PM

      The new selection system is AWESOME! Just think the betting potential and comedy gold of last person to get picked in the Pro Bowl!

  2. jimw81 - Jul 31, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    watch nfl take credit for this novel idea that hockey came up with.

    • tightbutth0le - Jul 31, 2013 at 7:05 PM

      They are already trying to…well at least ESPN is trying to give them the credit. Going so far as to call it “original and unique” on NFL Live today. But I expect nothing less from ESPN. They would rather have America forget hockey exists.

  3. footballer4ever - Jul 31, 2013 at 4:26 PM

    nfl= not freaking legit

  4. nickp91 - Jul 31, 2013 at 4:44 PM

    Gary Bettman now seeking credit for NFL success

  5. elemeno89 - Jul 31, 2013 at 5:04 PM


  6. Lupy Nazty Philthy - Jul 31, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    I love the pond hockey style picking of teams. The All Star Games were getting very boring. There was nothing worth playing for. Now with the draft they can organize guys by rivalries, team rivalries and country rivalries. Or the time they split up the Sedins.

    Like the last ASG in Ottawa, there Team Alfredsson was all the Sens and Habs players, all the Swedes, and Czechs…. Team Chara was all the Leafs and Bruins, Finns, Russians and Slovaks. You get Sens vs Leafs, Habs vs Bruins, Sweden vs Finland, Czech vs Slovak. It adds a dimension to the game.

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Jul 31, 2013 at 5:17 PM

      The biggest problem I have with the fantasy draft idea is that it’s hard for fans to have a rooting interest. Since you’re a Leafs fan I’ll use them as the example, if it were East v West, you’ve got your team and you know who you’re cheering for, with the new format if the Leafs have 4 all stars and there’s 2 on each team, which side do you cheer for?

      IMO they just need to bring an incentive back to the game, have east v west but make it so the winning team all gets their expenses paid for while the losing team has to foot the bill for all of their own travel and accommodations. Granted that idea is lame (as is the home field advantage in the World Series idea in baseball) but give the players some real incentive to play hard ($25k v $10k won’t work for these guys) and we’ll see some real excitement.

      • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Jul 31, 2013 at 8:30 PM

        I don’t really care who wins the All Star Game… It’s just nice that they actually seems to try a little harder with the fantasy draft installed. It adds the various rivalry elements to the game.

      • hockeyflow33 - Jul 31, 2013 at 10:44 PM

        Do you really think a guy making $6m a year is going to care about $15k?

        This is hockey, a sport where players have personal pride.

      • atwatercrushesokoye - Jul 31, 2013 at 10:52 PM

        hockeyflow33: no the players don’t care about the money (winner’s share $25k v loser’s share $10k) which was what I was saying. You have to give them a personal reason to care and to let their competitive nature take over, whether that’s having only the winners get paid, or having the losers fly home coach or whatever I’m not sure. But I do know the way it’s currently setup, whether it’s E v W or a draft the players are just going to go through the motions as it is. Their pride isn’t there in this game, all you need to do is watch 1 offensive rush where the defenseman just kind of swings his stick to poke check but doesn’t really try to do anything, to see that.

  7. atwatercrushesokoye - Jul 31, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    Both leagues should adopt the idea of not having the All Star Game at all. While neither game features any sort of defense, the NHL does have the advantage where individual stars can make spectacular plays in the game which does make it a little more fun to watch, in the Pro Bowl that just doesn’t happen, it’s usually 22 guys on the field looking like they don’t want to be there and just don’t want to get hurt.

    I think these games meant more back in the day when you didn’t have access to seeing players in markets on the other side of the country. Now with the way things evolved fans on the West Coast can watch Eastern stars play regular season games and vice versa.

    I also think players use to care way more about winning the games (think Pete Rose running over Ray Fossey at home plate) because the prize money for winning was a big chunk of change, now it’s just a drop in the bucket for what the majority of the players playing in the game actually make during the season.

    • 19to77 - Jul 31, 2013 at 5:18 PM

      Eh. The All-Star thing can be a fun experience. I’d prefer to see a lot more Winter Classic games added to the regular schedule than the All-Star Game subtracted. Those games draw great ratings and the players actually care because there are points at stake for actual teams. Plus the outdoor experience is really nostalgic for a lot of players and fans.

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Jul 31, 2013 at 9:02 PM

        The outdoor games might offer a twinge of nostalgia for some of the older fans who grew up in wintry climates, but very few of today’s players played many, or even any, of their games outdoors. While the first few were a hoot, what the NHL has set for next season is 99% money, 1% nostalgia.

  8. mnwildfan15 - Jul 31, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    They should make it true pond style selection and throw all the sticks in the middle put a blind fold on Bettman and start chucking sticks left and right.

  9. spochiefsfan - Jul 31, 2013 at 6:02 PM

    Who actually “roots” for a team during an all star game? It’s a fun, novel event. I dig watching the best players in the world have fun and showcase their talents.

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Jul 31, 2013 at 6:40 PM

      It’s great to watch them showcase their talents but I have no interest in the “everyone wins” thing that you seem to prefer, if I’m watching two teams play at anything I need to be able to side with one or the other, if it’s not my favorite team then it could be for a reason where I like certain players on a team or I just can’t stand the players and or fans of the other team, Pittsburgh and Vancouver are two good examples of teams in that category for me. But sitting there and picking a side is what makes it interesting,watching a game and feeling absolutely nothing towards either team makes it boring, and when you have two teams made up of different guys for absolutely no reason creates that.

      The prospect of the fantasy draft was great for one year but the novelty is gone, I’d actually prefer they go back to the North America vs the World format over the fantasy draft.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Jul 31, 2013 at 9:09 PM

      It’s been decades now, but I do miss when the NHL All-Star Game actually was a hockey game, with checking, and defense. But with even the lowliest players making hundreds of thousands of dollars now, there is no way to induce the players to play real hockey for an exhibition game, especially with club owners wary of their investments getting injured. The “draft” was cute, especially for the players, but, sorry, IMHO it did nothing to make the actual game any more exciting. Now get the hell off my lawn.

      • atwatercrushesokoye - Jul 31, 2013 at 10:36 PM

        I agree completely with you, the problem is that the All Star weekend is a massive event for the NHL to bring in their sponsors and schmooze them, so they will never get rid of it and just give the players a week off to rest up for the stretch run…which is what I think they should do.

        At least we won’t see one this year so by the time the next one comes around it’ll have been 3 full years inbetween, maybe that will make it better?

  10. icelovinbrotha215 - Jul 31, 2013 at 6:49 PM

    Wow. Never thought the NFL would be coping the NHL in anything. Job well done.

  11. chanceoffleury1 - Jul 31, 2013 at 10:03 PM

    The skills competition has always interested me more than the actual game. I think it’s a lot of fun to see the trick shots and drills and stuff that you don’t see in a normal game. The ADD in me likes the continuous variety I guess! And you get great team rivalries of putting teammates against each other in accuracy shooting or stick handling or whatever. It’s fun to listen to the players mic’d up, too. I think it was 2012 that they mic’d up Carey Price during the shootout and it was pretty fun to listen too. I mean, there’s only SO MUCH you can do to sell the audience’s interest on a game that doesn’t matter. I think the NHL has done a much better job at marketing and hosting the allstar game over the last few years.

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