The 95th East West Shrine Bowl was a different type of football game that I’ve covered before. It was a collection of all-star seniors from various college teams coming together to play in front of fans, their family, NFL teams and more. Not to mention that since 1925, the East-West Shrine Bowl has benefited Shriners Hospitals for Children and its mission to provide advanced care for children with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate, regardless of the families’ ability to pay for services.
During the week the players had practices, held media days with fans and also visited the Shriners Hospital to interact with the kids. The 95th East West Shrine Bowl also provided the players with their first real opportunity to meet with NFL teams and scouts as well as agents looking to represent new clients.
NFL assistant head coaches were the coaches for both squads and gave the seniors an opportunity to see who NFL teams are run during practices, media and game days. It was an adjustment period for certainty for most of these soon to be NFLers, but they were chomping at the bit at their first NFL experience.
What I really loved as a sports photographer photographing the 95th East West Shrine Bowl game was seeing all the different team helmets on the field at once. It also allowed me to see players from the smaller schools and even from some schools in Canada that I probably would never get to see or know about.
The game itself was fast paced. Each player was going 150% trying to make an impression on the NFL scouts and coaches in attendance. And really that was what this game was about. Giving these kids a chance on the national stage to showcase their abilities and to help improve their NFL draft stock.
The East all-stars jumped out to an early lead and it looked like they might just run away with it after the first quarter. It was a different story in the 4th when the East was down to the West and they both were trading scores in the 4th quarter which made it for an interesting game. The East was able to secure a victory with a Benny LeMay touchdown and afterwards all the families and friends of the players were able to meet them on the field for photos and what not.
All in all the 95th East West Shrine Bowl game was more than I could have hoped for. Can’t wait for next year’s game!