BY SHANNON GREEN
The NFL plans to recognize the University of Central Florida’s 13-0 undefeated football season during the 2018 Pro Bowl at Camping World Stadium Sunday.
Players have been invited to walk out on the field for a celebration after the first quarter.
“When we thought about UCF and the amazing season they had going undefeated and their bowl game win, we thought there was really no better way, especially in the city of Orlando, to do something for that college celebration of football than to honor the UCF team in stadium on Sunday,” said Matt Shapiro, director of events strategy for the NFL.
Weeks of talks
NFL representatives and UCF had been in talks for weeks about ways to promote the game in the city. The idea originated from the NFL Events team, which first approached UCF with the opportunity, said NFL spokesman Kamran Mumtaz.
The mission of the Pro Bowl is to promote the sport on all levels from youth to pros and NFL representatives wanted a stronger college presence surrounding the event this year.
So the timing could not have been better for UCF’s perfect football season, opening the door for the timely recognition.
Focus on season
While the NFL is saluting the Knights, they won’t be introduced as national champions.
“I think we’re going to focus on their undefeated season,” Shapiro said. “I don’t know that we’re going to get into the business of labeling them national champions. But we’re just excited to honor them and celebrate them.”
Several UCF players are expected to attend the Pro Bowl. Former players Shaquem Griffin, Tre’Quan Smith and Jordan Akins, however, are unlikely to make an appearance. They will compete in the Senior Bowl this weekend in Alabama.
Sunday will likely mark the team’s final moment celebrating last season’s success as players and the new coaching staff, led by Josh Heupel, shift their attention toward the 2018 season.