>2011 NFL PLAYERS Rookie Premiere @ UCLA

21 May


NFL PLAYERS Rookie Premiere kicked off with a flag football game featuring NFL players, celebrities and 2011 rookies at UCLA.

This was a free event set up by the NFL PLAYERS in partnership with Verizon Wireless, Pepsi, and Nike.

Verizon Wireless and Panini America were on hand giving away free stuff to the fans. Here’s what I got:

Polamalu, Wallace, Hester, Willis, Brady 
Hester, Willis, Brady, Sanchez, Rodgers, Bradford, Manning
NFL Sticker Book
NFL Stickers
Rookie Premiere Towels

Celebrity Flag Football Game

Throwbacks vs. Comebacks

The final score of the flag football game was Throwbacks 44 – Comebacks 34. Warren Moon was the coach of the Throwbacks (red jerseys) and Maurice Jones-Drew was the coach of the Comebacks (black jerseys). It was difficult trying to watch the football game since most rookies were walking around signing autographs for the fans.

Cam Newton was a referee 

Some participants in the flag football game included Brandon Molale, Bryon Russell, Donald Faison, Jesse Palmer, Matthew Hatchet, Michael Catherwood, Terrell Davis, Roger Craig and Ryan Nece.

MVP – Terrell Davis

These 36 rookies were in attendance:
A.J. Green (Bengals), Alex Green (Packers), Andy Dalton (Bengals), Austin Pettis (Rams), Bilal Powell (Jets), Blaine Gabbert (Jaguars) Cam Newton (Panthers), Christian Ponder (Vikings), Colin Kaepernick (49ers), Daniel Thomas (Dolphins), Delone Carter (Colts), DeMarco Murray (Cowboys), Edmund Gates (Dolphins), Greg Little (Browns), Jake Locker (Titans), Jamie Harper (Titans), Jerrel Jernigan (Giants), Jon Baldwin (Chiefs), Jordan Todman (Chargers), Julio Jones (Falcons), Kendall Hunter (49ers), Kyle Rudolph (Vikings), Leonard Hankerson (Redskins), Marcell Dareus (Bills), Mark Ingram (Saints), Mikel LeShoure (Lions), Randall Cobb (Packers), Ryan Mallett (Patriots), Ryan Williams (Cardinals), Shane Vereen (Patriots), Stevan Ridley (Patriots), Taiwan Jones (Raiders), Titus Young (Lions), Torrey Smith (Ravens), Vincent Brown (Chargers), Von Miller (Broncos)

During halftime, they introduced all of the rookies and held a throwing contest. Mark Ingram won by knocking over the target.

Austin Pettis
Bilal Powell
Christian Ponder
DeMarco Murray
Kyle Rudolph
Cam Newton enjoying his time at the Rookie Premiere

As each rookie was introduced, they threw mini football into the stands. My friend grabbed one of the balls and we used it for a couple of autographs.

Jake Locker & Kyle Rudolph
Von Miller

For the most part, most of the rookies were signing autographs throughout the second half of the celebrity game. Julio Jones and Mark Ingram didn’t really interact with the fans. They were signing footballs and throwing them into the crowd.

Von Miller (#2 pick by the Denver Broncos)
He signed the longest and talked with everyone. Every time he would sign, he asked for our names and personalized the item. He didn’t want us to make money by trying to sell it.

Jake Locker (#8 pick by the Tennessee Titans)

He only signed a few items because heading back to the VIP tent. I managed to get the mini ball signed. As he was leaving, one fan told him to “prove everybody wrong”, and Locker responded by saying “there’s nothing to prove”.

Kyle Rudolph (#43 pick by the Minnesota Vikings)

He was very polite and signed for everyone that wanted his autograph. He was also taking pictures with fans.

Blaine Gabbert (#10 pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars)

I was shocked that Gabbert didn’t have a bigger crowd around him when I asked for his autograph. He only signed a few items and went back to the VIP tent since there were no more fans.

DeMarco Murray (#71 pick by the Dallas Cowboys)

I wasn’t able to get Murray’s autograph because he was in a hurry. The rookies had to board a bus to go back to their hotel rooms and he came over to sign autographs for the Cowboy fans.

Roger Craig (3x Super Bowl Champion with the San Francisco 49ers)

He played in the NFL during the 80s/early 90s. Since UCLA was hosting the event, it was a bunch of college students who had never seen Craig play. I wasn’t able to get an autograph since he also needed to board the bus.

Torrey Smith (#58 pick by the Baltimore Ravens)

He was the most talkative of the bunch. If you wanted an autograph, you had to be nice to him. One lady claimed she was from Maryland and loved the Ravens, so he asked to see her ID. She wasn’t lying and he gave her a regular sized football with a couple more autographs including Julio Jones and Mark Ingram. One guy came up to Torrey and called him Jimmy Smith. That was the Ravens first round draft pick. Torrey didn’t give him an autograph.

Alex Green (#96 pick by the Green Bay Packers)

Green had a bigger crowd than Blaine Gabbert. It was probably because he was drafted by the Super Bowl Champions. He was a nice guy and when asked about playing with Aaron Rodgers, he said “I’m blessed”. He signed a 4×6 (you’ll see it later) and took a picture with me.

Vincent Brown (#82 drafted by the San Diego Chargers)

He was very quiet while he signed. He would give one word answers if a fan asked a question. Maybe he’s a shy guy.

Michael Catherwood (Loveline host, KROQ and Dancing With the Stars)

If you listen to Kevin and Bean on KROQ, you know Psycho Mike. I was the only person who called him over and he signed a 6×4 for me. He’s a funny guy.

The Rookie Premiere staff began to throw more mini footballs into the crowd. We received a couple more autographs. My brother received the best autograph of the night. The #1 pick in the draft, Cam Newton.

Cam Newton
Blaine Gabbert & Vincent Brown
Blaine Gabbert
Ryan Williams
Von Miller
Alex Green
Jesse Palmer
Ryan Williams
Torrey Smith 
Vincent Brown

Overall, the Rookie Premiere was a great experience. It’s always fun interacting with athletes, especially rookies. I can’t wait to attend next year’s event.

Thanks to David for the heads up!


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