The NFL has released the schedule of events leading to the Pro Bowl, which will be hosted by Camping World Stadium in Orlando for the first time on Sunday night, Jan. 29.
It's an exhaustive list.
"We want to create this massive and positive celebration at the end of the year that brings together as much of the football community as possible,'' said Peter O'Reilly, NFL senior vice president of events. "For a football fan and for an NFL fan in Orlando, this should feel like a football wonderland.''
Highlighting the week of activities:
•The NFL Pro Bowl Experience, a four-day free interactive festival at Disney World's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
•USA Football's 2017 Women's World Football Games and a Women's Careers in Football Forum.
•A Pro Bowl Skills Showdown that includes, among other events, a dodgeball game.
•The "Thank You, Coach'' program, allowing a Pro Bowl player to invite his high-school coach to enjoy the week with him.
•The NFL FLAG Championships and Punt, Pass and Kick National Championships.
On Thursday, Jan. 26, the NFL and the You Can Play Project will host LGBT youth from area junior-high and high schools for an event at ESPN Wide World of Sports. Students will attend a Pro Bowl practice, then talk with Pro Bowl players and NFL legends about LGBT rights and inclusion in sports.
You Can Play Project Executive Director Wade Davis played in the NFL.
"This is part of our commitment of recognizing and celebrating fans and the diversity of our fan base,'' O'Reilly said. "We were down in Orlando for the Dolphins' preseason game [against the Atlanta Falcons in August] and announced our donation to OneOrlando [a fund for Pulse victims].
"This is really just a continuation of that commitment. It was especially important for us in light of the tragedy in Orlando to have a key component of the week be our partnership with Wade.''
Another key component will be the fan festival.
The festival will include a family football challenge, a long-snap accuracy challenge and a run-a-route opportunity for fans. Fans can make a GIF of their favorite touchdown celebration and be photographed with the Pro Bowl trophy.
Festival hours will be 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Jan. 25-26 and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. on Jan. 27-28.
"That is something that we never done around the Pro Bowl — create this many free and accessible fan events,'' O'Reilly said.
Besides the fan festival, Disney also will host a Special Olympics flag football game from 2-3 p.m. on Jan. 25 and two NFL PLAY 60 clinics to promote youth fitness on Jan. 26.
O'Reilly said players are excited about the "Thank You, Coach'' initiative, another first.
"We made the commitment that everything that we weaved through this week will tie back to the roots of the game and to youth and high-school football,'' O'Reilly said. "That really was the core of that idea.''
The week will kick off at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 24, at Lake Lorna Doone Park, where plans for an NFL PLAY 60 field will be revealed. A tree planting will feature the Evans and Jones High football teams and Pro Bowl legends captains Jerome Bettis, Tony Gonzalez., Ray Lewis and Charles Woodson.
Kickoff for the Pro Bowl is set for 8 p.m. It will be broadcast by ESPN. Tickets begin at $45 at probowl.com.
Source: Orlando Sentinel