2021 East-West Shrine Bowl cancelled due to COVID-19

The 2021 East-West Shrine Bowl have been cancelled by the organizers.

It’s the oldest United States university and college football all-star showcase event, which has served as an NFL launching point for Canadian players such as tight end Antony Auclair (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), defensive lineman David Onyemata (New Orleans Saints) and offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (Kansas City Chiefs) in recent years.

For more than three decades, at least two Canadian university players have been invited to the annual event in Florida. It features a week of practices in front of NFL and CFL coaches and scouts followed by a game broadcast on the NFL Network. The game had been scheduled for January 23, 2021, at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.

“It’s terribly disappointing to have to cancel this year’s game, but there are so many issues involved with bringing in approximately 130 players and 25 NFL coaches from every corner of the United States and Canada,” Bob Roller, executive director of the East-West Shrine Bowl, said.

“It’s difficult enough currently for these college teams to provide some sort of a bubble during the regular season, but our game occurs after all players have gone home for the holidays. It presented too many potential issues for this one year.”

The East-West Shrine Bowl dates back to its original contest in 1925. It benefits Shriners Hospitals for Children and its mission is to provide advanced specialty care for children. The Shriners Hospitals for Children health care system provides excellent care for children with orthopaedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate, regardless of the families’ ability to pay for services.

Thousands of East-West Shrine Bowl players have gone to the National FFL in nearly a century, including 78 who went on to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. As of today, 98 athletes who played in the most recent East-West Shrine Bowl, in January 2020, are currently on NFL rosters, including Canadian offensive lineman Carter O’Donnell who is on the Indianapolis Colts practice squad.

Some of the many all-star names to play in past games include Tom Brady, Gale Sayers, John Elway, Lawrence Taylor, Pat Tillman, Frank Gifford, Brett Favre, Dick Butkus, Mike Ditka and Roger Staubach.

Players eligible for the 2021 game will still receive formal invitations and become a part of the historical 96-year tradition, Roller said. The entire organization looks forward to the successful return of the game in 2022.