The National Football League Player Associations (NFLPA) Collegiate Bowl is a postseason, all-star game for senior college players. Founded in 2012, it’s been held annually in January after the National Championship Game.The game is for college athletes to increase their draft stock, it’s much more than that.
The week-long experience provides players with knowledge of training, financial responsibility and leadership tools necessary to succeed with the lifestyle change the NFL inevitably brings. The NFLPA prides itself on player engagement and this year’s National and American teams will be led by two, former NFL head coaches in Marvin Lewis and Hue Jackson.
Marvin Lewis, former Cincinnati Bengals head coach and NFLPA National Team coach, has kept himself close to the NFL despite working in the collegiate arena. Lewis has spent most of the past year as a special adviser at Arizona State. This role allowed Lewis to be closer to family. His daughter is an Arizona State graduate and still lives in the area.
“The first thing I tell them is we have a coaching staff that has well over 230 years of
experience and three Hall of Famers,” Lewis said. “The opportunity to lean on these guys and ask them questions and gain knowledge is vital. Our job is to teach them how to play football in the NFL style and put them on stage for Saturday so that they can play very fast and show what they can do.”
“We’re trying to teach the players how to meet and take notes”, he added. “Then they have to learn how to rest and study and get ready to do it the next day. It’s no longer ‘you’re going to be apart of the team,’ you have to earn your opportunity to stay a part of the team.”
There are a few things different about the game. First, there is no blitzing. Last year, there were 112 players who participated in the game, representing more than 80 colleges. From the bunch, 42 players were invited to the NFL Combine while 19 were selected in the draft. Players who have shined are Tennessee State University wide receiver Chris Rowland and University at Albany wide receiver Juwan Green.