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NFL changes location and format of Pro Bowl

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NFL: Pro Bowl-Photo Day Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

This is probably the first time I've ever written about the Pro Bowl in June, but here it is: the NFL today announced some significant changes to their annual all-star game, including a change in location and in format.

The league made it official that they are moving the Pro Bowl from Hawaii to Orlando, Florida. This will give the NFL a chance to partner with Disney and ESPN to create an extensive, family-friendly experience. The practices will be held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex at Disney World and the week will feature a large emphasis on youth football. That emphasis includes allowing players to invite a former youth or high school coach to take part in the festivities and awarding players of the winning team with grants to help support their youth or high school programs. The USA National Football Conference will also be held in Orlando during Pro Bowl week, as well as other events such as the awarding of the Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year Award, a Pro Bowl 5K, and a Pro Bowl parade in Disney's Magic Kingdom park.

As for the game itself, it will be played on Sunday, January 29 at Camping World Stadium and will be televised on ESPN at 8 p.m. eastern. The format of the game has been changed significantly too, however, as the league announced that the Pro Bowl will revert to AFC vs. NFC. That's the way the Pro Bowl used to be, but for the past three years they have gone with an unconferenced format that included a Pro Bowl draft. They are doing away with that this year and returning to the conference format, meaning that there will be 44 AFC players and 44 NFC players voted to participate.

It's very likely that at least one Colts player will be a part of the 2017 Pro Bowl, as they have had at least one participant in each of the last 18 seasons (the last time they didn't have a player in the Pro Bowl was 1997, the year before Peyton Manning arrived in Indy). Last year, cornerback Vontae Davis, safety Mike Adams, and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton all participated in the game. Outside linebacker Robert Mathis leads all current Colts players in Pro Bowl selections, as he has been named to the all-star game six times.