FRISCO, Texas – With the 99th edition of the East-West Shrine Bowl kicking off at 7 p.m. Thursday at Ford Center for the first time, maybe the coolest day of the week came on Wednesday, when for sure future Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver Steve Smith Sr. and current Texas head football coach Steve Sarkisian were inducted in the Shrine Bowl Hall of Fame.
Sarkisian, quarterback at BYU, played in the 1997 game and Smith, wide receiver at Utah, played in the 2001 game. Sarkisian unfortunately most remembers being intercepted by a defensive lineman. But for Smith, the former five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, his memory of playing in the East-West Shrine Bowl is rather unique, and invoking the name of the late Gil Brandt, Cowboys original 29-year vice president of player personnel, who recently passed away Aug. 31, 2023, at the age of 91.
Smith, who went from the hard streets of Los Angeles to Santa Monica Junior College and then Utah, explained how he fortuitously ended up in the East-West Shrine Bowl after not being invited. And he
wasn't invited to the Senior Bowl either, letting this year's player know not to take paying in this game for granted.
As the story goes, Kansas State wide receiver Quincy Morgan "decided that he didn't need to come here," Smith explained. "So, God rest his sole, Gil Brandt called my agent, and 'Hey, does Steve want to play?' . . .
"Now 23 years later at the time now looking back at it, I was sloppy seconds, but fortunately without that opportunity I would have never gotten that opportunity to be seen by the other people. So, for me I was an alternate, but I took the opportunity to be an alternate to take over the stage."
That he was on Wednesday, after becoming a third-round pick of the Carolina Panthers and earning a 16-year NFL career, 13 of those with Carolina, winding up in the Panthers Hall of Fame.
And remember two years ago now Super Bowl quarterback Brock Purdy played in the Shrine Bowl, catapulting that into becoming the final pick in that 2022 NFL Draft by San Francisco. And also, playing in that game was Kansas City running back Isiah Pacheco. And look at where they are now. Plus Buffalo's 2023 first-round draft choice WR Zay Flowers.
Plus. such stellar NFL players in the East-West Shrine Bowl Hall of Fame include Cowboys Hall of Famer Randy White, and such NFL stars like Gale Sayers, Brett Favre, Dan Pastorini, Doug Williams and Jerry Kramer and Larry Csonka.