Senior Bowl rocks

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 29, 2004

Are you a football junkie? If so, get a quick fix this Saturday in Mobile at the premiere pre-draft football event in the world.

The Senior Bowl is the real college football bowl game of Mobile. Yes, the GMAC Bowl is newer and pits college football teams against each other, but it would not be a reality if the Senior Bowl had not paved the way and proved how well South Alabama can support a big game.

This week Mobile has been flooded with the best senior college football players in the nation. Coaches, scouts, fans and a wide variety of people have also flocked to the Port City for the game.

The game may not seem important to fans. A national championship is not on the line. Bragging rights are not at stake. The players want to win, but the most important thing is that they look good on the field and I'm not talking about having a

clean uniform or the right brand sweat band.

More than 700 coaches and scouts from the National Football League will be in attendance to see the top 95 of the best senior NFL prospects in the country.

To the 95 players this could very well be the biggest game of their lives with NFL's decision makers watching very carefully along with Mel Kiper Jr.

A good showing at the Senior Bowl could make a senior a millionaire by pushing him up the draft board of a team and thus making him a first-round selection.

A bad day could mean the opposite and send what many thought was a "can't miss kid" to the lower rounds of the draft or even to the free agent pool.

The worst possible scenario is that a player could be injured.

So, this game is important. It just doesn't matter which team wins because all of the players who play well are the real winners.

The game is always great because it gives fans a chance to see the stars of tomorrow before they start pulling cell phones out from under goal posts after scoring a touchdown in a game.

It is also a blast for fans because it is a huge party. Tailgating at the Senior Bowl is taken very seriously.

The game has become a party. A celebration of sorts to the future of professional football while also honoring the best college football players not named Maurice Clarett.

Fans will no doubt attend the game to see players from their favorite team like Alabama's Shaud Williams and Auburn's DeMarco McNeil.

The player I would like to go see this year is an old neighbor of mine - Phillip Rivers.

Phillip (also known as "Little Rivers" by those he grew up around in Decatur) has always been a leader and an exceptional athlete.

I know because I played football for his dad when he was the head coach of the Decatur Red Raiders. OK, I didn't play that much but I was on the team.

Anyway, my point is that Phillip has always been a very competitive leader. I used to play every sport imaginable with him and his friends.

He would always have a plan and execute it. He never had trouble getting his friends to believe in him or his plan because he has the "gift."

The "gift" is that rare personality trait born leaders and winners have instilled in them.

He is a winner no matter what sport he is playing whether it is football, whiffle ball or even neighborhood golf.

- John Wallace is the sports editor of, and columnist for, The Andalusia Star-News.