Football fans enjoy professional kind of experience

    Super Bowl festivities began this past weekend with the NFL Experience at the Embarcadero in San Diego. About 25,000 fans poured in to participate in various activities designed to be just like real National Football League games to learn more about the game and its players, watch highlights and bloopers, and meet with their favorite players.

    Cynthia Chavez
    Guardian

    In a feature called “”Measure Up to the Pros,”” fans compared literally in height, weight, strength and hand size against the body imprints of pros like Troy Aikman, Cortez Kennedy and Santana Moss. There were several obstacle courses simulating football drills and plays that fans competed in so they could get an idea of how NFL players play and practice. Despite the long waits in line, fans were enthusiastic to test their athletic abilities in courses such as “”Down and Out”” where they tackled dummies and caught passes. There was also an event called “”Extra Point”” where they attempted to kick the ball between NFL-sized goalposts.

    “”I think [the NFL Experience] is pretty fun because it has a lot of good games for kids to learn and experience being in the NFL,”” said 10-year-old Bryan of San Diego.

    In addition to the obstacle courses, fans could learn how to announce football games by participating in “”Fantasy Play By Play,”” where they sat in front of television screens with headsets and called games just like NFL announcers. Fans also had a chance to walk through the locker room and caught a glimpse of the lockers of famous NFL players, such as LaDainian Tomlinson of the Chargers, Brett Favre of the Packers, Steve McNair of the Titans and Emmitt Smith of the Cowboys, among other. The Hall of Fame displayed items like jerseys, helmets, footballs and shoes so fans could learn about football greats of the past and the present. Many fans also lined up to meet and get autographs from the Charger Girls and their favorite players, such as Drew Brees of the Chargers, Henri Crockett of the Vikings, Akili Smith of the Bengals and Marcellus Wiley of the Chargers.

    Cynthia Chavez
    Guardian

    Dozens of companies also joined in the festivities by sponsoring events and giving away free items. Wilson football set up a tent where fans learned how footballs are made, and also gave away posters and keychains. Reebok also set up a contest called “”Run to Daylight”” where they awarded the fastest 40-yard dash runner with a pair of the same type of shoes they supply to NFL players. Sony Playstation 2 provided fans with opportunities to play dozens of video games such as the new NFL Gameday 2003 and also handed out new games.

    The NFL Experience is a way for fans to participate and learn about life in the NFL through interactive games and a variety of events. It is the closest way for fans to feel like real NFL players without actually being on the teams. It is only in town Jan. 23 to Jan. 25.

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