The NFL announced several initiatives in partnership with the 2020 East-West Shrine Bowl. The enhancements are designed to grow the game through developing personnel and increasing engagement with players at all levels.
“The objective for the East-West Shrine Bowl is to provide opportunity for development, evaluation, and community outreach for both the next generation of prospects and coaches,” said Troy Vincent, NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations and 2019 East-West Shrine Bowl Hall of Fame Inductee. “The venue affords prospects an early start on evaluation and assessment by pro personnel. It is also a tremendous opportunity to engage with the children and families at the Shriners Hospital.”
The East-West Shrine Bowl is the nation’s oldest all-star game for college seniors aspiring to play in the NFL. Seventy-seven Pro Football Hall of Famers have played in the East-West Shrine Bowl and more than 300 past participants were on 2019 NFL Week 1 rosters.
Mike Caldwell of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Ben Steele of the Atlanta Falcons will serve as the head coaches for this year’s game.
An 11-year NFL veteran, Caldwell spent the 2019 season as the Buccaneers inside linebackers’ coach after serving four seasons as the assistant head coach/inside linebackers’ coach for the New York Jets. In 2019, rookie linebacker Devin White was one of two players in the NFL with at least four fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles, while linebacker Lavonte David recorded his seventh-career 100-tackle season.
A seven-year NFL veteran, Steele joined the Falcons in 2019 as an offensive assistant after spending the previous five seasons with the Buccaneers. Atlanta tight end Austin Hooper set career highs in receptions (75), receiving yards (787) and receiving touchdowns (six) this season.
"We're very excited to have Mike Caldwell and Ben Steele as head coaches for our East-West Shrine Bowl all-stars," said Bob Roller, Executive Director of the East-West Shrine Bowl. "Ben was a coordinator for our 2019 game and both coaches have ties to the Tampa/St. Pete area. They will lead two strong staffs of NFL assistant coaches that will be invaluable to our players as they begin their own journey to the NFL"
At the end of the NFL regular season, clubs nominated active assistant coaches — who were reviewed by a panel of NFL Football Operations staff, East-West Shrine Bowl leadership and two members of the NFL’s General Managers Advisory Committee. The final two were chosen as head coaches. Once the head coaches were selected, each then fills his 12-person staff from other NFL assistant coaches also nominated by the clubs — a key job requirement for head coaches at every level of the sport.
To further aid in the development of future coordinators and head coaches, these representatives will participate in a panel session and learn from former NFL head coaches and general managers while in St. Petersburg, Fla.
In a continuous effort to connect the game’s greats with the next generation of stars, Pro Football Hall of Famer Will Shields and NFL Legends Willie McGinest, Bobby Taylor and Amani Toomer will serve as mentors to the 2020 East-West Shrine Bowl players throughout the week.
A two-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time Super Bowl champion, Willie McGinest was a vital member of the New England Patriots dynasty of the early 2000s. His 15-year NFL career was highlighted by 12 seasons with New England, where he recorded an NFL-record 16 postseason sacks, including a single-game playoff record 4.5 sacks in the Patriots’ 2005 AFC Wild Card game. McGinest, who finished his career with the Cleveland Browns, currently serves as an analyst for the NFL Network and is a member of the NFL Legends Youth Advisory Committee.
A 10-year NFL cornerback, Bobby Taylor was selected in the second round (50th overall) by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1995 NFL Draft. In 129 career games with Philadelphia (1995-2003) and Seattle (2004), he recorded 19 career interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns, along with 10 fumble recoveries and five forced fumbles. During his 2002 Pro Bowl season, Taylor recorded a career-high five interceptions and returned an interception for a touchdown in the NFC Divisional playoffs to help send the Eagles to the NFC Championship Game. He attended Notre Dame (1991-94) and was recognized as a consensus first-team All-American his senior year.
A 13-year NFL veteran and Super Bowl XLII champion, wide receiver Amani Toomer was selected in the second round (34th overall) of the 1996 NFL Draft by the New York Giants. In 190 career regular-season games with the Giants (1996-2008), Toomer is the franchise’s all-time leader in receptions (668), receiving yards (9,497) and receiving touchdowns (54). He also appeared in 11 postseason games and totaled 44 catches for 608 yards and a franchise-best seven touchdowns, including three during the Giants' run to the Super Bowl title in 2007. Toomer attended Michigan (1992-95), where he had 143 receptions for 2,657 yards — fourth-most in school history — and 18 touchdowns.
Enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015, guard Will Shields was selected in the third round (74th overall) of the 1993 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. Selected to 12 consecutive Pro Bowls from 1995-2006, he set Chiefs' franchise records for games (224) and starts (223) during his 14-year career in Kansas City. Shields was selected as the 2003 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year and was named to the 2000’s NFL All-Decade team. Selected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001, he attended Nebraska (1989-92), winning the Outland Trophy as a senior as the nation’s top interior lineman.
The league continues to assist in identifying the best players for the East-West Shrine Bowl, provide game officials, and football operations internship opportunities during the week leading up to the East-West Shrine Bowl. Additionally, the NFL and East-West Shrine Bowl will partner on highlighting innovative concepts to further evolve the game.
The 95th annual East-West Shrine Bowl, which features some of college football’s best prospects, will kick off at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 18, in St. Petersburg, Fla and be televised live on NFL Network.
Since 1925, the East-West Shrine Bowl has benefited Shriners Hospitals for Children and its mission to provide advanced care for children with specialized medical needs. Locations in the United States, Canada and Mexico provide advanced care for children with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate conditions — regardless of the family’s ability to pay.