NFL tries out new clock rules at the Pro Bowl


As the NFL continues its efforts to make the Pro Bowl seem more like a celebration of the best players in the league and less like a preseason game that is for some reason being played eight months too early and with players wearing a bunch of different helmets, different rules regarding the timing of the game are being trotted out.

The differences are as follows:

1. A two-minute warning will be added to the first and third quarters and the ball will change hands after each quarter.

2. After the two-minute warning of each quarter, if the offense does not gain at least one yard, the game clock will stop and not start again until the next snap.

3. After an incomplete pass the game clock will start on the referee’s signal, except inside the last two minutes of the first half and the last five minutes of the second half.

4. A 35/25-second play clock will be used instead of the normal 40/25-second clock.

5. The game clock will not stop after a quarterback sack at any point during the game.

The rules seem like a combination of trying to encourage more offense and trying not to allow the game to drag out too long. Some of these rules seem kind of bizarre; others seem kind of fun. None of them is likely to make a big difference, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see the NFL take a close look at a few of the rules (particularly switching the 40-second play clock to a 35-second play clock) and potentially use them in the regular season as well.

What none of these rules does, however, is force the players to take the game seriously. Which is what would really make the Pro Bowl entertaining.

91 responses to “NFL tries out new clock rules at the Pro Bowl

  1. So stupid. Just get rid of the probowl. Add in some fun games. Let’s see a FG competition or some creative games. Let Suh, Welker and a bunch of non kickers try to have a FG contest or something. That would actually be entertaining.

  2. I agree with everything here and still think the entire rulebook needs to be re-evaluated with MASSIVE changes, and something needs to be done about the Pro Bowl which so far is seemingly getting made fun of more this year than any previous year. Although the really lousy draft special from last night didn’t help. That was really embarrassing and the worst NFL related program I’ve seen. It’s almost like they did that intentionally to force me to check out.

  3. What joke! More commercials for the league, forcing more contact by implementing more plays, all while screaming “player safety”… Shove it Goodell!

  4. In the first quarter, the two teams will play dodgeball.

    Then they will re-pick teams, and place kickball in the second quarter.

    Halftime will consist of hide-and-seek.

    Third quarter: hopscotch.

    For the fourth quarter the teams will play Madden.

    If they make it to overtime, then they will play football (but it will be two-hand touch).

    If it is still tied after overtime, they will bring in the folks that construct ice rinks in football stadiums for the Winter Classic and decide it via a hockey shootout.

  5. This idiotic new unconferenced crap is an unmitigated disaster because it’s going to pit teammates against one another, causing players to put even less effort than before.

  6. I have a good timing rule. Make each quarter start with 00:00 on the clock and winner of the coin toss wins the game.

  7. Not sure if it’s the wording or what but #2 sounds confusing.. the point of this is to discourage running out the clock by QB kneels, forcing the offense to attempt positive gains?

    As a Lions fan, I’m all for this. We’re hardly ever on the right side of that play.

  8. Cutting the play clock down, if they do that as a rule change, will NOT make Mr. P Manning very happy for sure.

    Also SMH at making more rules that help the offense. Ye gods. Wanna do something? CHANGE THE PI PENALTY. Getting 30 plus yards for a slight push is incomprehensible. Make it a MAX 20 yard penalty.

  9. I like the idea of running the clock following an incomplete pass outside of the last two minues of the first half and last five minutes of the second half.

    What I REALLY like and would like to see made permanent is the rule where you have to gain at least one yard for the clock to run in the last two minues. I would go further in the last two minutes of regulation to where if you are ahead by eight points or less and have the ball, the clock would only run between plays on completed pass plays of eight yards of more where the ball must travel at least eight yards beyond the line of scrimmage. That would eliminate running out the clock when the other team is behind by one score, which has always been a big turn-off of more casual sports fans and force a team ahead to throw the ball.

  10. Only thing I see interesting here is the 40-25 becoming 35-25 but I’d like that more in the regular season. I don’t like how teams can kneel the ball 3 times straight and kill almost a full 2 minutes. They should have to get at least 1 first down under 2 minutes to kill the full clock. That could be an interesting thing with the shortened play clock.

  11. 2. After the two-minute warning of each quarter, if the offense does not gain at least one yard, the game clock will stop and not start again until the next snap.

    So no more kneel downs, creating more plays creating more injury opportunities. Oh… and also more video reviews for forward progress to see if we can keep the clock running. MADNESS.

  12. They really should play rough touch or flag.

    Most of America has been doing just that for decades and the scoring is through the roof and athletes who are better will always shine…

  13. The only thing they need to mess with is the product quality of the probowl game. Play the pro bowl as the hall of fame game. Each string plays one quarter. The players will be pumped up for it, seeing the ceremonies will serve as a reminder of what they want to achieve. Then you won’t have two teams that play five preseason games, while everyone else gets four. It would be an appropriate time to honor the accomplishments of last season as well. The super bowl players would also get to join the festivities. Am I crazy?

  14. CKL:

    I would do a modified version of the college rule for pass interference myself:

    Incidental pass interference would be a 15-yard penalty as is currently the case in college.

    Blantant pass interference would still be the same penalty as it is now.

    The penalties would be done very much like they were in the USFL, as this was how it was done there.

  15. Re teammates against each other: They do that every day in practice. It’s one of the reasons for needing strong team leadership…

  16. CKL says:
    Jan 22, 2014 12:33 PM

    Also SMH at making more rules that help the offense. Ye gods. Wanna do something? CHANGE THE PI PENALTY. Getting 30 plus yards for a slight push is incomprehensible. Make it a MAX 20 yard penalty.


    I sort of like the idea of this I say if it’s not like clear aggressive pass interference make it 15 yards instead of spot of foul. But when you get clear pass interference then make it spot of the foul. Too easy on offense for their quarterback to just sling a back shoulder pass to their WR and the DB accidently bumps the WR adjusting and get a 20 yard penalty that easy.

  17. Good grief, how about having the QBs throwing balls through a tire swing. This is all a joke. Not gonna watch the Pro Bowl. We’re down to second, thrid, and forth choices in some positions – yeah the best at their spot…

  18. Simple solution:

    1) Eliminate the Pro Bowl “game” altogether (still allow players to be selected for contract purposes, etc)

    2) Create a “Bronze Medal” game. Let the losers of the Championship games play for Third Place (this year that would be SF vs NE).

    The Third Place game needs a trophy for the team, a title for the fans and a stipend for the players. Put that altogether and make a spectacle out of it. Let it be played in Hawaii or the home field of the higher seeded team or even at the same Super Bowl venue to add to the media hype of the week.

    This would make for a more meaningful game that people will actually watch and that fans will throw more money at for the league to flourish.

    Simple. Done. Somebody make me a VP or something.

  19. “What if we actively made the Pro Bowl even WORSE to watch?” – The NFL

    I’m sure the amount of in-game confusion and disagreement from the refs on these changes will really hurry things along.

  20. Give each sideline a tennis ball cannon like they used to have in American gladiators and allow them to try to shoot down the opposing team’s passes and field goals.

  21. #1 is just dumb.
    #2 will virtually eliminate any “victory formation” running the clock out
    #3/#4 just plain dumb
    #5 Isn’t that how it is right now?

  22. In all seriousness…’s a decent pro bowl rule….let the defenses play with 12 players with the 12th being an extra DB. 4 hours of pitch and catch (which is what real games are becoming but I digress) is absolutely UNWATCHABLE.

  23. Instead of playing football why don’t they just play ” crazy 8’s” or “Old Maid” – this game is slip sliding away.

  24. For regular season and playoff games, shorten the play clock in the final 2 minutes of the 4th quarter to ensure fuller competition. Many contests are kneel downs by then. The final 2 minutes should be the most exciting time. Even if a trailing team has used up most of their timeouts by the 2 minute mark, a 25 second play clock should leave time at the end of the game if they make the stop or at least it should force offenses of leading teams to run or pass which may bring turnovers and create more drama. How about eliminating the kneel down or the “victory formation” as they call it all together?

  25. MORE offense? Come on, the league’s basically the “outdoors” Arena League as it is.

    I’m not sure how much longer I can stick around as a fan. The stadium experience stinks, what with the cost of parking and tickets, traffic in and out of most stadiums is abysmal, expensive food and drinks, obnoxious “yahoo” fans, and no play-by-play of the action (unless I’m one of the fortunate ones that can get into a luxury suite – I’m not, and I can’t). On top of that, the Raiders (my team) haven’t been relevant in 11 years and the future isn’t too bright. I may just jump ship altogether.

  26. Have pro bowl selections and then honor them in some way. The rest of the time have a skills/strong man type competition.

    Football CANNOT be played less than 100 percent (and the risk of injury is too great)

  27. I am trying to figure out how these changes are one small part of Roger Goodell’s grand scheme against the Steelers, but I’ve got nothing. Can someone help me with that?

  28. Rule #2 is the only one that makes sense. Eliminate the kneel down.
    Beyond that, it’s only going to shorten the actual playing time and increase the amount of commercials. Keep it up and actual playing time will be 2 minute quarters.

  29. These rule changes are absurd! How does these changes improve fan experience at games? How do these changes keep fans at home glued to games? Goodell is literally ruining the NFL and he’s not alone. I want to know which owner(s) are asking Goodell to implement these changes and ruin the game? Let’s hope this experiment fails.

  30. New clock rules will not help, and will confuse viewers. Less people will watch. And, please do not make these rules part of the regular season as well. The NFL is fine right now, we do not need any changes.

  31. I am truly concerned what NFL football will look like in 10-15 years if Goodell and whomever is siding with him on these awful changes to “make the game more entertaining” take hold. It’s beyond stupid. The game was built over decades of essentially remaining the same (last 10 years excluded). It’s really awful and sad how dumb these people are. The corporate flapjacks and casual TV fans they cannot pander fast enough to; will dump the NFL over the next 10 years, as something new and shinier grabs their attention. That’s not being cynical, it’s a fact. A real fact.

  32. They should play the last two minutes of all four quarters with the stadium lights flashing like humongous strobe lights. That would certainly look exciting.

  33. I’m not for getting rid od the Pro Bowl, but changes like this are just stupid. Why do they always have to futz with stuff. Just leave it alone. It ain’t broke…

    I hate Goodell and the incompenant committee.

  34. The only way the game gets more interesting is if the players hit hard and play hard. No fan in their right mind would want the best players on their team to play in a meaningless game like that.

    For better or worse, the pro bowl is exactly as it should be. A fun time exhibition that is more flag football than real football. Even the way it is now I’d still prefer my team’s pro bowl caliber players opt to not play. If the hitting got real, then it could potentially devastate a team’s future.

    What fan would really want that? I’m thinking these pro bowl advocates aren’t really fans of a particular team at all. No way they can be.

  35. How about all players on the winning team get a 1-year exemption from the NFL’s substance abuse policy and testing? It’ll be a stampede just to get on the team, and probably open warfare on the field.

  36. How much of this sounds like it’s influenced by the popularity of fantasy football? I’d say all of it, which explains everything.

  37. Mr. Goodell;

    Please just stick to the blueprint that made you guys the best sport in the world. Quit tinkering! Also bring back the skills comp, then maybe players will want to go to Hawaii.



  38. Doesn’t matter – the game doesn’t count for anything other than a few millionaires being given an extra 100k for showing up and smile at the cameras.

  39. Replace the Pro Bowl with NFL Player Cage Fighting. The main event will be Sherman vs. Crabtree with an undercard of Incognito vs. Martin. Ratings would be through the roof.

  40. The players don’t care because they know the fans pay little attention.
    The best players aren’t always voted in anyway. Between that and the fact that so many players opt out, it’s really a pointless exercise.
    If enough players bail maybe it’ll be the scrub bowl.

  41. Been watching the NFL for almost 50 years.

    Not been watching the Pro Bowl aka the Suck Bowl for the last 30 years or so. I manage to find far more entertaining things to do while that game is on like doing laundry, cleaning the garage or any sort of chore.

  42. And just when you thought the Pro Bowl couldn’t get worse. You want to experiment with rule changes? I have a few… and they’re for the regular and post season as nobody cares about the Pro Bowl:

    1.) Change the 40 second play clock to 35 seconds, I think we all agree and like this rule change. Cuts down on winning teams being able to kill too much time while still providing enough time to call their play.

    2.) The “spike” to stop the clock when you’re out of time outs is actually intentional grounding. Start calling it. You can still do it… but you’re moving back 5 yards when you do.

    3.) Eliminate the spot foul rule for PI. Nobody should be able to gain half the field over a questionable call. 15 yards maximum, automatic 1st down is enough.

    4.) Each team gets 2 challenges. EVERYTHING is review-able/challenge-able!

    5.) The football needs to cross the goal line AND at least one body part needs to touch the end zone for it to be a score. No more waiving the ball over the pylon.

    6.) If the ground can’t cause a fumble, than receivers who catch the ball in the end zone and clearly posses it should not have to maintain possession through hitting the ground, getting up, walking to the sideline, in the post game shower, and through the drive home for it to count. (Calvin Johnson rule)

    Start with those and work on the officiating and I promise you a LOT more people will be happy.

  43. I love the idea of the offense having to gain a yard during the last 2 minutes in order to keep the clock running. Having a close game decided by the QB taking a knee is awful. This would add actual football plays to a game. The NFL is doing what every successful company does– trying to improve their product. The people complaining about the league now are the same ones who complain every time a change is implemented. The NFL is so dominant because it has evolved over time.

  44. Hey Roger Goodell, when the Pro Bowl becomes important enough for the players to get voted to it and actually play in it, and not collect a bonus for just being named to the team, then will I consider watching it. What a joke, players line their pockets with more bonus money to be voted in the game, and turn it down so another player can get in and have a bonus. I vote to cancel the game and take away the bonus cash to the players.

  45. What a gargantuan waste of time. The ‘Pro Bowl Award’ should be recognized but the game should be done away with. It won’t be since the NFL won’t pass on anything that brings in a few bucks.

  46. #2 is actually pretty interesting. No more “victory formations” means that teams will have to actually play offense enough to gain a yard even if they are ahead with the ball at the end of the game.

    Play clock shortening works, too. Minor but a good tweak.

    The ball changing hands at each quarter should make the ends of the first and third quarters interesting. The team with the ball at the end of the quarter has to score or they lose it, but they can’t stop the clock with a spike or otherise incomplete pass.

  47. “2. After the two-minute warning of each quarter, if the offense does not gain at least one yard, the game clock will stop and not start again until the next snap. ”

    THIS! The Arena League has been doing this for years. No killing the clock, no “Victory Formation” where a team can just milk out two minutes of time to preserve a win. If you want the clock to run, then you have to run an offensive play that gains yards. Stop the sissy kneeldowns under two minutes and earn your wins.

  48. Probowl still gets 10mil viewers. That is more viewers than anything NBC has on the schedule all week.

    Oh puuuuuleze. You say you won’t watch? Get real.

  49. Add 5 mins. to each quarter and don’t stop the clock at all, let it run….except for challenges.

  50. they should scrape the Pro Bowl game itself and replace it with something along the lines of Battle of the Network Stars / Laff-A-Lympics

  51. The NFL wants to cut down on length of games, but they would not dare cut one single commercial. They received billions from the networks to show games on TV. How ironic that the networks made the game fantastic on TV but Goodell still throws tantrums (ie., blackouts) when fans prefer the game experience from home when they cannot afford the exhorbitant ticket prices.

  52. Regardless of all the changes, what makes you think these guys are going to risk injury and a multi million dollar contract for a measley paycheck. I think the winners get $53K and losers get $26K. They will continue to play soft. Think outside the box Mr Goodell and completely revamp the event.
    Personally I think making it a flag football event with some fun rules might be interesting. Granted it will not be like a regular football game, but it might be fun to see what happens. And it drastically reduces the chances of serious injury.

  53. Maybe Goddell should just sign on Splenda, Equal and Sweet N Low as corporate partners for the NFL since he wants to use every way possible to “artificially sweeten” this sport. I don’t even think he watches the games. How much “more” exciting could he have made the NFC championship game and other playoff games this season???

  54. yeah I don’t even watch any allstar games let alone one that’s played half assed.. I mean maybe skill comps just bec I can bet on it with other people who would win what comp. its a toss up which afc or nfc team would play the weakest to lose.

  55. Pro Bowlers need to study pro rasslin’ to see that you can look like you’re going all out and still have about 0% chance of hurting the other guy.

  56. As you can see by me user name I’m a senior who has been around quite a while. I haven’t watched the Pro Bowl in 30 years or more. Why should I watch some guys goofing around who don’t care? Modern pro football has turned into a joke with ticky-tacky fouls, chest thumping, dancing, instant replay and recently using replay to determine the results of a play. I could see that coming many years ago. It’s political correctness invading every segment of society.

    Let’s go back to the 60s and 70s and drop instant replay as a tool. Use it for entertainment purposes only (and no slow motion to rile the fans). Let the referees call the game and let the chips fall where they may. It’ll all come out in the wash in the end and we won’t have to listen to the announcers’ insulting rambles about indisputable evidence.

    Drop the play clock and let the refs decide if a team is milking the cloak. The two-minute warning? What in the world? Can’t these coaches and players tell time? These things are making the game very boring and watching it anymore is not a priority.

    Kicking the extra point? Move it back to the 25. Drop the 2 minute warning, give each team and extra time out in the 2nd half (only), and no more spiking the ball, which should be intentional grounding. My God, can’t these professionals run a play without having to stop the clock?

    I’ve got more but I also know I’m wasting my time. It’s nice getting old; I won’t have to put up with the world’s stupidity much longer.


  57. You are all free to dislike and not watch the Pro Bowl. But it takes a really, um, special kind of person to insist that they stop playing it because you don’t like it.

    Go do something productive with your time, and let the millions of people who want to watch (yes, Nielsen says that millions watch it every year) enjoy it.

  58. BS! If they don’t want the game to “drag out too long” why in the world would they entertain adding 2-minute warnings to both the 1st and the 3rd quarters? Right… ‘cuz we all know “adding” 2-minute warnings is a sure-fire way to speed the game up. They’re doing it for additional advertising revenue… not because it benefits the game in anyway, but because it adds to their overall revenue. I’ve been waiting for this to happen for years… it’s just a matter of time before it’s introduced into games.

    If you want to speed the game up, do away with the standard timeouts that take place immediately following a kickoff/return after a team scores. There’s *ZERO* reason to go to a commercial timeout after a score, only to come back to game action for the kickoff/return and then go right back to yet another commercial timeout (while the players are standing on the field waiting to play). If you MUST have your advertising dollars (which I fully understand), then do us ALL a favor and simply make the timeout after a score longer so that you can get your ads in, as opposed to forcing 2 needless sets of commercial timeouts down our throats.

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