Pro Bowl practices offer fans unique opportunity

By Austin Lyon, Spectrum News 13
Last Updated: Saturday, January 27, 2018

They came from all across the U.S.

Football fans hoping for a chance to connect with their favorite NFL players.

Sara Fannin was one of the lucky ones. The Port Charlotte resident was positioned along the sideline when players from her favorite team, the New Orleans Saints, walked over to sign autographs.”

“Drew Brees, Mike Thomas and Marshon Lattimore signed my jersey and it’s the best day of my life,” Fannin said.

Thousands lining the field to watch Pro Bowl practice Saturday at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports shared Fannin’s enthusiasm.

Some of those fans, like Brad Sorenson and his family, got to rub elbows with the stars.

“Today is my birthday and my wife surprised me with a trip out to the Pro Bowl,” said Sorenson, who traveled with his wife and son from Orem, UT.

Sorenson had a wide smile while Seahawks safety Earl Thomas signed a flag.

“When they respect what you do, they pay their hard, earned money to come out here, you want to do everything in your power just to be entertaining,” Thomas said.

Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith said players relish the opportunity to give back to the fans that constantly chant their name.

“There’s a lot of people out here, you know you won’t get to everybody but just to sign as many as you can and hopefully you’ll impact a couple people,” Smith said.

Washington Redskins defensive lineman Ryan Kerrigan had an impact on Bridgete Gray when he obliged a request for a selfie.

“It’s unbelievable,” Gray said. “They look like they’re having so much fun and it makes us have fun too.”

Pro Bowl week culminates with the game itself, which will kickoff shortly after 3pm Sunday at Camping World Stadium.