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Jerry Rice: I don't think NFL should give up on Pro Bowl

CULVER CITY, Calif. -- You have aged over the past 10 years. On a surface level, it doesn't appear that Jerry Rice can relate.

That was my first takeaway when I sat down with the greatest wide receiver of all time Tuesday in the NFL Media newsroom. Decked out in a designer suit and wearing one of his three Super Bowl rings, Rice looks tall, trim and not a day older than 35. The gods -- as they've always been -- are with The G.O.A.T.

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Rice is going through the Culver City car wash to promote his role as team captain in the upcoming Pro Bowl. Rice, along with Deion Sanders, will help choose the teams in a new "fantasy" format this season.

The Pro Bowl very well could be eliminated if February's edition doesn't feature a jump in both quality and ratings. Though we doubt it keeps Rice up at night, he now has a small role in the league's Hail Mary attempt to save the all-star game.

"The concept has changed a little bit, but I think we're trying to bring that competitive nature back into it, Deion and I," Rice said. "Because we know what it meant to us to have the opportunity to go over to Hawaii and play in it."

I asked Rice about how the level of competition has changed since the '80s and '90s, when Rice was a regular participant.

"To be honest with you, with everybody taking family members over, you wanted to try to break even," Rice said with a laugh. "The winner got more money than the loser, so there was more at stake.

"So we're just trying to get that morale going again, because I felt like the last couple years it's slipped a little bit, and some players are just not giving the effort," Rice added.

I told Rice he sounds more optimistic about the Pro Bowl's survival than he did a few months earlier. In August, Rice told a reporter at the Pro Football Hall of Fame he didn't believe the format change would help save the game.

"It's still going to be left up to the players," he said. "Because Deion and I, we can't get out there and play the game. We trying to make the game somewhat smarter and we want to make it more entertaining ... but still they're going to want to go out there and play and want to do it."

Does he believe the Pro Bowl should be dropped if it flops in February?

"It's hard to say because I really don't know how it's going to go over," he said. "The most important thing is that we're trying to get the fans back in the stands and get them interested.

"I just feel like the Pro Bowl has meant so much to the NFL," Rice continued. "And I don't think we should give up on it."

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