Imagine you're a college senior at a job interview at a major company. You wear your best suit, make sure the shoes are shined and there's no spinach on your teeth. Your resume and your ducks are in a row.
Now take that company and multiply it by 32.
Then throw in another 8.
Add to that the fact that you're on a team with a group of players you played with and against for 4 years of your life. You're fighting for the same chance to be on an NFL team come April or play in Canada.
Welcome to the Senior Bowl, the nation’s most unique football game and football’s premier pre-draft event, annually featuring the country’s best senior collegiate football stars and top NFL draft prospects on teams representing the North and South which are coached by the entire coaching staffs from two National Football League teams. Senior Bowl practices are also attended by over 800 general managers, head coaches, assistant coaches, scouts and other front office personnel from the 32 National Football League teams as well as our neighbors (neighbours) to the North, making Mobile and the Senior Bowl the week-long host to a one-of-a-kind NFL Coaches Convention.
Played in Mobile, Alabama's second-largest city, it is the chance for senior football stars to be looked at, poked and probed by coaches and scouts from the National Football League and the Canadian Football League. It's not only a chance for talent to be evaluated, it's also a chance for Mobile to be shown off to the nation and the world and for one week be part of the National Football League.
The game was not played in the Port City at first. The game's roots began 405 miles away in Jacksonville, Florida in 1950. That was for one year and the game was moved west along I-10, where it's been ever since.
Great names have played in the game, that features two teams based along Civil War lines (North vs. South) and coached by NFL coaches and their staffs. NFL greats such as Steve Bartkowski (Atlanta), Dan Marino (Miami), Thurman Thomas (Buffalo), LaDainian Tomlinson (San Diego) and Christian Ponder (Minnesota) have taken their spots in the game that gives football fans a chance to see them in action before the draft.
The city almost lost the game due in part to poor attendance before sponsors such as Delchamps and Food World stepped into the spotlight and saved the game from being lost to another city or done away with completely.
This week, the teams practiced at Ladd-Peebles Stadium and those practices were open to the public and today will be the last chance fans will get to mingle with those players that they have either seen in person or watched on television for four years.
As for the game, it is an event that some could say is a big deal in Mobile with the expection of Mardi Gras (another Mobile invention). The game will be seen nationwide on the NFL Network by millions of football fans that could not get a ticket or press pass.
I had the pleasure of covering a pair of Senior Bowls while in Mobile at South Alabama and it was a lot of fun. It was also a lot of work, especially having to get up on a Saturday morning to go and sit in a press box for 6 hours but it was worth it and I still have my press pass and briefcase from the 1990 contest.
It's a lot of fun and a lot of work that goes into this game. But don't just think of it as a game. Think of it as a job interview for 40 companies that want to pay you to play football. Granted, eight of those companies play with 12 men on the field and use only three downs, eh?
Just make sure your shoes are shined, there's no spinach on your teeth and your resume and ducks are in a row.
Senior Bowl Football Game
Date: January 26, 2013
Kickoff: 4 p.m. Eastern
Stadium: Ladd-Peebles Stadium (40,646)
Television: NFL Network
Tickets: $30, $20 & $10
Photo of Ladd-Peebles Stadium courtesy the Mobile Register and the University of South Alabama