More than 100 players from the 91st East-West Shrine Game® held on January 23, 2016, have been drafted or signed as free agents. Players will be working hard to impress teams at training camps this summer, the final stage in their transition to professional football. Last year, over 90 East-West Shrine Game players were invited to NFL training camps and more than 70 made final NFL rosters. That’s a lot of talent playing in one game dedicated to supporting Shriners Hospitals for Children®.
“Once players get into an NFL camp they have a chance to compete for a job,” said Harold Richardson, East-West Shrine Game executive director. “It’s great to see them rewarded for their hard work. But, what really has us excited is the way the Tampa Bay community is coming together in support of the game and the hospitals. Combining great football with a great cause is what makes it more than just a game,” said Richardson.
This year’s NFL draft presenters included former East-West all-stars and NFL legends Dick Butkus, Larry Csonka, Paul Warfield, Israel Idonije, Will Shields and Steve Atwater. This year’s draft highlight was Navy Midshipman Keenan Reynolds who was the 2016 East-West Shrine Game Pat Tillman Award recipient. Reynolds was selected in the sixth round by the Baltimore Ravens. Reynolds broke the NCAA Division I career touchdown record with 88, and most rushing yards by a quarterback record with 4,559. He finished fifth in Heisman Trophy voting, the highest by a service academy player since Roger Staubach in 1963. He is also the only Navy quarterback to go 4–0 against rival Army.
Reynolds started his Shrine Game experience with a visit to Shriners Hospitals for Children — Tampa where he played with patients on the basketball court, pushing them on swings, taking photos and signing autographs. He spent the week practicing in a variety of roles including quarterback, running back and receiver with his East teammates under head coach Charlie Weis, and the watchful eyes of NFL scouts. “I really enjoyed the visit to Shriners Hospitals for Children. It was a humbling experience and made us realize how fortunate we are. It also reminded me to strive for the kind of joy those patients have,” said Reynolds.
On average, more than 265 East-West Shrine Game alumni are on NFL rosters each season. “We’re already hard at work planning for the 92nd East-West Shrine Game. Our goal is to fill the stadium for the kids,” said Richardson. Kick-off will be at 3 p.m. EST, January 21, 2017, at Tropicana Field in sunny St. Petersburg, Florida. Game week activities begin January 15, including the players’ visit to Shriners Hospitals for Children — Tampa, team practices, a silent auction, and the Players’/Hall of Fame Banquet. For complete game week details, visit shrinegame.com/GameWeek.
About the East-West Shrine Game
The East-West Shrine Game is the longest-running college all-star football game in the country. While the teams are divided by East and West, the players come together for the beneficiary of the event, Shriners Hospitals for Children.
About Shriners Hospitals for Children
Shriners Hospitals for Children is changing lives every day through innovative pediatric specialty care, world-class research and outstanding medical education. Our 22 facilities, located in the United States, Canada and Mexico, provide advanced care for children with orthopaedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate.
Shriners Hospitals for Children is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and relies on the generosity of donors. All donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent permitted by law. To learn more about Shriners Hospitals for Children, please visit shrinershospitalsforchildren.org.