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Innovative new rules could actually make this year’s Pro Bowl watchable

This could actually be good.

The Pro Bowl has long been the worst of the major All Star games in sports. You might disagree, but deep down you know it’s true. There’s nothing at stake like MLB, and lazy no-defense play makes the NBA’s All Star game at least fun, because it’s just glorified street ball.

Largely there’s just been zero reason to watch the Pro Bowl. It’s just a mediocre game the week before the Super Bowl that nobody really cares about. However, they might have just found a way to make me watch.

The idea of “Spot and Choose” was taken from the Ravens’ suggestion in 2021 on how to modify overtime. It was a unique idea that almost added an element of “HORSE” to the NFL, and of course it was voted down by owners because it was a fun idea. Now we’ll get to see it in practice, and I’m fascinated to see how it plays out.

Spot and choose is fairly simple. If you win the toss you can say “Ball at the 30 yard line.” Then the opposing team can choose to either take the ball at that spot, or defend from that position. Now, the 30 might not really sell this, but imagine when you have a team with an elite defense vs. an elite offense. The good offensive team could say “ball at the 5,” confident their QB can gain the yards — dissuading the other team to take possession.

It’s a fun wrinkle, and comes at a time where people are generally sick of the league’s rules on overtime because of the unsatisfying ending to Bills vs. Chiefs in the Divisional Playoff round.

The second element is a change to the after-score kickoff. It’s long been suggested that the NFL should beef up the ways a team can get back into a game late if they’re down several scores. Modifications have been made to onside kick rules, but it’s not really enough. So this year teams have a major choice.

They can kickoff like normal, or choose to retain the ball at their own 25 yard line, but start on 4th and 15. Obviously a failed attempt would almost guarantee a score from the opposing team, but it’s a really cool big-risk option to try and score a lot of points in a short period of time.

These two elements take a game I absolutely did not care about, and turn them into something I actually want to watch. The NFL will likely be monitoring the reaction to these too and seeing how they play out on the field. It’s entirely possible that success this weekend could see rules like this make their way into the regular season, even if they have some caveats like the ball retention rule after a score is allowed only in the final two minutes, or spot and choose is in overtime.