MOBILE, Ala. — The vast majority of coaches and team executives skip town Wednesday night or Thursday morning. Padded practices conclude Wednesday, and that is the only portion of the week that interests most talent evaluators.
Such is not the case for the fans, however. The motor homes began pouring in to Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Thursday, and are unlikely to slow down all the way until game time Saturday night. You can watch it live on NFL Network at at 4 p.m. ET, the pregame show starts at 3.
That some fans would camp out for the Senior Bowl, and dot the stands during practices — to borrow from Allen Iverson ‘We’re talking about practice‘ — was a bit of a surprise to me in my first trip to the event. After all, it’s understandable why scouts, coaches, agents and media would watch practice, but fans? It’s not like open NFL training camp fan sessions, or college football spring practice: Nobody grows up rooting for the South or North in the Senior Bowl, living and dying with the result of their team.
Or do they? I should have known what I was getting into when on my plane ride to Mobile. I struck up a conversation with the person next to me. A Mobile native, she said she went to the Senior Bowl every year with her dad, and was an enthusiastic South team supporter.
After spending a week here, I have come to appreciate the fans’ interest in the event. It is an outstanding football atmosphere, with some of the most hardcore and knowledgeable fans in attendance. It offers a great opportunity to get decent access to some of the best college players in the country, and similar to spring training baseball, is a fun and festive atmosphere conducive to getting autographs and photos.
Plus, who wouldn’t love a chance to see more Tim Tebow?
– Jason Feller