Why the Shrine Bowl is the top college football all-star game for 2023 and beyond | Opinion

With the Shrine Bowl announcing huge changes for its 2023 iteration and beyond, it may just be the premier all-star game for the future.

On Wednesday, the news was released that the East-West Shrine Bowl would be the only college all-star game in 2023 that featured an NFL coaching staff on each sideline. This is a significant bit of news for the upcoming season as it furthers the Shrine Bowl’s case to be the top all-star outfit in the country. Why is it important, and why should athletes covet a Shrine Bowl invitation? It’s simple, really.

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The Shrine Bowl offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience

The 2023 East-West Shrine Bowl is scheduled to offer a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience for its athletes. By putting the student-athlete first, each player receives more than just practice with members of an NFL coaching staff. They receive more than just a simulated game’s worth of action.

As has been the case at the Senior Bowl for decades, each player at the Shrine Bowl is now subject to a full week of life as a professional athlete inside the walls of two select NFL franchises. With a full NFL coaching staff per side, each team will essentially be able to be run like an NFL team would through the summer and into the regular season.

This gives these coaches an unmatched level of access to the potential players they can draft while also serving to provide each athlete ample opportunity to prove themselves in a practice setting, off the field, and ultimately on the gridiron.

Furthermore, the Shrine Bowl offers much more than just a simulated game and a week of practice where they prance through media gauntlets and events on a few people’s timeframes. It offers the athletes a chance to meet and greet NFL personnel in a well-constructed manner. It allows the players to feel comfortable during the critically-important interview process with general managers, head coaches, scouting departments, and others from NFL teams.

The Shrine Bowl also brings forth the player’s health aspect, both physical and mental. Putting the athlete first is one thing to say, but actively doing so by ensuring each player has enough rest and mental health professionals on standby at a moment’s notice is another. In Vegas, not only will the players be regimented to a schedule that puts their best interests first, but it also gives them a chance to affiliate with the NFL media and fans in an interpersonal way that is within their timeframe.

The NFL has seemingly bought into this structure as it’s better for the athletes and ultimately better for their coaching staffs. Once again this season, the Shrine Bowl has complete buy-in from the NFL. The Shrine Bowl in 2023 will be in Las Vegas ahead of the NFL’s Pro Bowl and have NFL personnel on hand for every event. That level of access for the players is uncanny and, frankly, vehemently important.

If the Shrine Bowl couldn’t get any better from a football standpoint, the off-field experience is one that most Shrine Bowl alumni rave about the most. Having the integration between the Shriners Children’s Hospital and the athletes gives back in ways few entities can. Players are allowed the first-hand experience of granting life-changing moments for children in need while benefiting the Shriners’ main goal of healthcare for all those in need.

No one rivals the platform given by the Shrine Bowl. Those philanthropic efforts are furthering the cause of so many who are in a position to help make the game itself pale in comparison. Helping others while helping your cause is what this week is all about and what others in this arena cannot rival.

Shrine Bowl 2023 could be historic

Like the news around the NFL coaching staffs at the Shrine Bowl, the watch list of preseason athletes, known as the Shrine Bowl 1000, was also released by Eric Galko and his staff this week. The 1000-player list offered insight into who made the cut, how the process was crafted, and what goes into the year ahead of the 2023 iteration of the East-West Shrine Bowl.

In conjunction with their heavy news week, it was announced that an advisory team comprised of eight industry mainstays was formed. This Advisory Team, consisting of Amy Trask, Scot McCloughan, Will Shields, Bucky Brooks, Jordan Palmer, Dane Brugler, Mark May, and Greg Gabriel, brings unrivaled services to the event itself. Advising on player experience while creating opportunities in the industry, the East-West Shrine Bowl will focus on even more than just player growth on the field.

This thought-provoking group will also advise on key initiatives that better the sport for all those involved in truly a game-changing way. As big as the NFL coaching staffs joining the fray was, the Advisory Team will help craft the future of the Shrine Bowl for the better — and for a long time.

So, if you’re a college football player trying to figure out what is best for you after your collegiate career is finished, look no further than Vegas. After all, there isn’t an event that offers better services catered to the athlete — both on and off the field — than the Shrine Bowl.

Cam Mellor is the Senior Director of the College Football/NFL Draft vertical for Pro Football Network. You can find his writing here and follow him on Twitter: @CamMellor.

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