According to an official press release, the NFL Players Association has teamed with AstroTurf to present a new collegiate all-star game.
The AstroTurf NFLPA Collegiate Bowl will take place at the Home Depot Center on the campus of California State University Dominguez Hills in Carson, California. The game is scheduled for January 21 -- the same week as the East-West Shrine Game, which used to be held in San Francisco, but now takes place in St. Petersburg, Florida and a week prior to the Senior Bowl. As with most all-star games, players will be brought in the previous Sunday for a full week of practice (and evaluation from scouts) prior to the game, itself.
Tickets (beginning at $15) are already being sold at TicketMaster.com and at HomeDepotCenter.com.
Like the East-West Shrine Game, the AstroTurf NFLPA Collegiate Bowl will rely on the big names of some ex-NFL coaches to help stir up interest. The two teams in this contest will be led by former NFL head coaches Dick Vermeil and Tom Flores.
Perhaps most interesting about the game is that unlike the East-West Shrine Game, Senior Bowl and similar all-star events, the AstroTurf NFLPA Collegiate Bowl will consider underclassmen for their 100 roster spots.
“Our mission is to provide these young men with an unforgettable all-star game experience but just as importantly with invaluable information for their transition out of college,” Clark Gaines, NFLPA Assistant Executive Director, was quoted as saying in the press release. “The NFLPA is a player’s primary resource for information on the business of football, and we will educate these players on how to succeed in the NFL and in their post-football careers.”
Most NFL scouts declined to comment on the new game. One, however, was intrigued by the idea that underclassmen might be involved.
"That's surprising [that underclassmen may be invited to participate], but it definitely is a way to be different from the Senior Bowl and the East-West," the scout, requesting anonymity, wrote in a text.
"Depending on who they're able to get play in the game, I'm sure scouts will be there to see it."
The scout is quite correct in that. The simple inclusion of underclassmen does make this game potentially unique and one to watch. As more details emerge, I'll post them here.
For now, if you'd like more information about the game you can follow the game organizers on Twitter and Facebook at: twitter.com/NFLPABowl and facebook.com/NFLPACollegiateBowl.