|Reese's Senior Bowl|
|Stadium||Hancock Whitney Stadium|
|Previous stadiums||Gator Bowl Stadium (1950)|
Ladd–Peebles Stadium (1951–2020)
|Previous locations||Jacksonville, Florida (1950)|
|North vs. South (North 34–17)|
|National vs. American (National 27–24)|
The Senior Bowl is a post-season college football all-star game played each January in Mobile, Alabama, which showcases the best NFL Draft prospects of those players who have completed their college eligibility. Produced by the non-profit Mobile Arts & Sports Association, the game is also a charitable fund-raiser, benefiting various local and regional organizations with over US$7.8 million in donations over its history. The game is currently sponsored by Reese's, a brand of The Hershey Company, and is televised by the NFL Network.
The 1950 Senior Bowl, the inaugural edition, was played at Gator Bowl Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida; the game then moved to Mobile's Ladd–Peebles Stadium the next year, where it remained through the 2020 edition. Starting with the 2021 edition, the game is played at Hancock Whitney Stadium on the campus of the University of South Alabama, also in Mobile.
Historically, the Senior Bowl was the first chance its participants had to openly receive pay for participation in an athletic event. Players in the inaugural 1950 game each received $343 (if on the losing team) or $475 (if on the winning team); by 1975, the amounts had been increased to $1,250 and $1,500. The 1988 edition was the last time players were paid ($1,500 and $1,750). This was one reason that participation was limited to seniors whose eligibility for further participation in college football had expired. Athletes who wished to play spring collegiate sports, such as college baseball, or otherwise remain eligible for amateur sports, had to avoid participation in the Senior Bowl.
The game has consistently been played on a Saturday in January, with the exception of 1976, when it was held on a Sunday. The scheduling date within January has varied – the earliest playing has been January 3 (1953 and 1959), while the latest playing has been January 30 (2010 and 2016). Since 1967, it has been traditionally set for the week before the NFL's Super Bowl (which itself is now played in February). It is usually scheduled as the final game of the college football season, although for a period during the 1980s and 1990s, it was the next-to-the-last game, followed a week later by either the Hula Bowl or the Gridiron Classic. From 2007 through 2011, and also in 2013, the Senior Bowl was again the penultimate game, followed by the Texas vs The Nation game a week later. In 2020, the revived Hula Bowl was played the day after the Senior Bowl.
CBS acquired national television coverage rights to the 1952 through 1954 games, though they never televised the games nationally under those rights. The first nationally televised Senior Bowl was in 1958 by NBC, and the games have been televised every year since. To commemorate the occasion and the publicity that the televising of the Senior Bowl would draw to the state of Alabama, Gov. James E. Folsom commissioned each player in the 1958 game as Honorary Admirals in the Alabama State Navy, as well as Senior Bowl founder Jimmy Pearre, North squad coach Joe Kuharich, South squad coach Paul Brown, and South squad past-coach Steve Owens; announcers for the televised event, Red Grange and Lindsey Nelson, were commissioned Honorary Colonels in the Alabama State Militia. ESPN televised the game as early as 1982, continuing until the game moved to the NFL Network starting with the 2007 edition.
Sponsors of the game have included Delchamps, a supermarket chain headquartered in Mobile; Food World, a supermarket chain headquartered in Birmingham; Under Armour; and Nike, Inc. Starting with the 2014 game, Reese's took over sponsorship. In January 2018, Reese's announced that they were extending their sponsorship of the game through at least the 2020 edition.
In March 2020, the Senior Bowl registered "The draft starts in Mobile" as a service mark. In October 2020, Panini America entered a multi-year agreement to produce trading cards for Senior Bowl players.
The two teams are coached by coaching staffs that are selected from two NFL teams. In recent years, the coaching staffs have come from teams who finished near the bottom of the league standings, but whose coaches were not subsequently terminated. Organizers stipulate a number of specific rules for the game, some of which are intended to reduce the chance of injury (e.g. "All blocks below the waist are prohibited"), and others that simplify what the teams need to practice and prepare for (e.g. "Only four rushers allowed, no 5-man pressures or blitzes from secondary permitted"). The game is also the players' first time competing under the slightly different professional rules (e.g. receivers must have both feet inbounds for a legal catch vs. just one foot inbounds in college football).
The week-long practice that precedes the game is attended by key NFL personnel (including coaches, general managers and scouts), who oversee the players as possible prospects for professional football. Athletes sometimes decline invitations to participate in the Senior Bowl, opting instead to prepare for the NFL scouting combine or their college's pro day.
Dan Lynch of Washington State was the first (and to date only) player to appear in two Senior Bowls (1984 and 1985), having been granted an extra year of eligibility after the 1984 game. In 2013, two players (D. J. Fluker and Justin Pugh) with a year of college football eligibility remaining, but who had already graduated, became the first "fourth-year juniors" to be granted clearance to play in the Senior Bowl.
- All-time series, through the 2021 game (72 editions): South (35–30–3); AFC (2–1); National (1–0)
- The first game was played in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1950. All subsequent games have been played in Mobile, Alabama.
|Most points scored (winning team)||57, North||1980|
|Most points scored (losing team)||38, North||1987|
|Most points scored (both teams)||80 (South 42, North 38)||1987|
|Fewest points allowed||0, North||1990|
|Largest margin of victory||54, North (57–3)||1980|
Seven people have served as head coach in four or more Senior Bowls.
|Games||Head coach||W||L||T||Win pct.|
Games coached by NFL teams
Each of the current 32 NFL teams has coached in at least one Senior Bowl. Records include games played under a franchise's prior names (e.g. Boston Patriots appearances are included in the record of the New England Patriots). Updated through the 2021 game (72 editions, 144 appearances).
|Games||NFL team||W||L||T||Win pct.||Most recent|
|12||New York Giants||5||7||–||.417||1995|
|6||Kansas City Chiefs||3||3||–||.500||2000|
|6||San Francisco 49ers||2||3||1||.417||2019|
|5||New Orleans Saints||2||3||–||.400||1991|
|4||New York Jets||2||2||–||.500||1979|
|4||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||2||2||–||.500||2007|
|3||New England Patriots||1||2||–||.333||1976|
|2||Green Bay Packers||2||0||–||1.000||2001|
|2||Los Angeles Chargers||2||0||–||1.000||2004|
|2||Los Angeles Rams||1||1||–||.500||1989|
denotes an MVP whose college team was not part of the top tier of college football (e.g. FBS, Division I-A, or historical predecessors) at the time they played in the Senior Bowl. There have been four such MVPs: Terry Bradshaw (Louisiana Tech, 1969 College Division season), Bill Kollar (Montana State, 1973 Division II season), Neil Lomax (Portland State, 1980 Division I–AA season), and Kyle Lauletta (Richmond, 2017 FCS season).
50th Anniversary Senior Bowl All-Time Team
The following team was selected by fan voting before the 1999 game:
- Additionally, both coaching staffs for the 1993 game came from AFC teams.
- Now known as Texas A&M–Kingsville.
- Now known as North Texas (without "State").
Heisman Trophy winners
|Player||Pos.||Heisman season||Senior Bowl||Ref.|
Senior Bowl Hall of Fame
Established in 1987, the Senior Bowl Hall of Fame seeks to pay tribute to the many outstanding former Senior Bowl players who have made lasting contributions to the game of football. The Senior Bowl Hall of Fame also allows enshrinement to former coaches, administrators and other individuals whose efforts helped the Senior Bowl.
- 1988 – Joe Greene, Lee Roy Jordan, Steve Largent, Joe Namath, Walter Payton, Pat Sullivan, Jim Taylor, Travis Tidwell
- 1989 – Ed Jones, Ozzie Newsome, John Stallworth, Gene Upshaw, Jack Youngblood
- 1990 – Paul Brown, Tucker Frederickson, Jerry Kramer, Neil Lomax, Wellington Mara, Finley McRae, Jack Pardee, Rea Scheussler
- 1991 – Morten Andersen, James Brooks, Dave Butz, Weeb Ewbank, Doug Williams
- 1992 – Franco Harris, Mike Holovak, Sam Huff, Dan Marino, Don Shula, Pat Swilling
- 1993 – Cornelius Bennett, Bear Bryant, Ralph Jordan, Tom Landry, Marty Schottenheimer, Lynn Swann
- 1994 – Robert Brazile, Rickey Jackson, Mark Rypien, Jim Simpson
- 1995 – Bob Baumhower, Pat Dye, Bo Jackson, Gene Washington
- 1996 – James Lofton, Dick Steinberg, Kellen Winslow
- 1997 – Bob Hayes, Sterling Sharpe, Doak Walker
- 1998 – Jim McMahon, Ray Nitschke, Thurman Thomas
- 1999 – Tom Banks, Dale Carter, Paul Krause, Albert Lewis, Randall McDaniel, Art Monk, E. B. Peebles, Jr., Derrick Thomas, Roger Wehrli
- 2000 – Hanford Dixon, Brett Favre, Chuck Howley
- 2001 – William Andrews, Ron Jaworski, Eddie Robinson
- 2002 – Todd Christensen, Bert Jones, Steve McNair
- 2003 – Terry Beasley, Jeremiah Castille, Ted Hendricks
- 2004 – Derrick Brooks, Christian Okoye, Richard Todd
- 2005 – Larry Allen, Al Del Greco, Ray Perkins
- 2006 – Curtis Martin, Tony Nathan, Michael Strahan
- 2007 – E. J. Junior, Jake Plummer, Hines Ward
- 2008 – Dean Kleinschmidt, Kevin Mawae, Brian Urlacher
- 2009 – Jason Taylor, Shaun Alexander
- 2010 – Larry Johnson, Terrell Owens
- 2011 – None, due to NFL lockout
- 2012 – Keith Brooking, Donovan McNabb, Dan Reeves
- 2013 – John Abraham, Sylvester Croom, Aeneas Williams
- 2014 – Bill Kolar, Torry Holt, DeMarcus Ware
- 2015 – Woodrow Lowe, Tony Richardson, Kyle Williams
- 2016 – Steve Hutchinson, Bill Curry, Tamba Hali
- 2017 – Blaine Bishop, Lance Briggs, Jim Harbaugh
- 2018 – Al Wilson, Phil Villapiano, Jay Novacek
- 2019 – Rodney Hudson, DeMarco McNeil, Billy Neighbors
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