In order to minimize injuries, the Pro Bowl plays modified rules that protect the players. Basically, pass rushes are shut down, and standard formations are used. A summary of the rule modifications from the league’s Record and Fact Book:
- The offensive formations must have a tight end and have no more than two receivers on either end. No motion or shifting is allowed.
- The defense must line up in the standard 3–4 formation, evenly spaced, with linebackers in a two-point stance (three-point stance permissible in goal-line situations). Outside linebackers can rush the quarterback in short yardage or inside the 5-yard line.
- Safeties must play man-for-man or with limited zone coverage (3-deep with strong-safety rotating and no 5-deep zones).
- Intentional grounding rules are relaxed when the quarterback throws to the line of scrimmage to avoid a sack.
- On punts, the defense can rush 6 players, 3 per size. On placekicks, the nose tackle can be the 7th rusher.
If the game ends in a tie, they will play an overtime period.
This year’s game marks the last of 30 consecutive Pro Bowls played in Hawaiʻi. Next season’s game will be played Jan. 31, 2010 in Miami the week before the Super Bowl. As a result, players selected from the two Super Bowl teams will not compete in the Pro Bowl.
Related: Jerome Boger is the referee for the 2017 Pro Bowl.