MOBILE, Ala. (Jan. 3) – The Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bears have been selected to coach the 2017 Reese’s Senior Bowl later this month in Mobile, Ala.
"The Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bears represent two of the NFL's flagship franchises when it comes to tradition and history,” said Reese’s Senior Bowl Executive Director Phil Savage. “We are proud to have them lead this year's North and South teams.”
The Browns, led by their first-year head coach Hue Jackson, will guide the South team, while John Fox, in his second year as head coach of the Bears, will guide the North.
“Armed with a number of extra draft picks, I know the Browns are looking forward to working with and evaluating the South squad, while the Bears and their staff will embrace their opportunity to coach and scout the North roster,“ Savage said.
Cleveland, which has coached in the Senior Bowl 10 other times, finished the 2016 season with a record of 1-15 and owns the top pick in this year’s NFL Draft.
“I’m excited about coaching the Senior Bowl,” Jackson said. “They really do an outstanding job of getting great players to participate in the game. Obviously, this can be really beneficial to our organization by spending a week coaching some of the best players in college football while we are preparing for the draft. I always say coaching is all about teaching and putting players in the best environment to succeed. I really look at this as an opportunity to help these young men be at their best during a week in which they get to showcase their talents to the entire National Football League.”
“Jackson has a sterling reputation as an innovative offensive mind and is motivated to turn the Browns around,“ Savage said. “So, this is an ideal situation for Cleveland to get a head start on the 2017 NFL Draft. He and his staff will do a great job with these all-star prospects. “
The last time the Browns coached the Reese’s Senior Bowl in 1993, Bill Belichick was the head coach and they had a young defensive assistant named Phil Savage, who is now the Executive Director of the Reese’s Senior Bowl.
Forrest Gregg led the Browns staff in 1977 and legendary coach Paul Brown was a fixture in Mobile in the 50s, coaching in the game eight straight years (1952-1959). The Browns have a 7-3 record when coaching in the Senior Bowl.
Chicago was 3-13 this season and will pick third in the draft. The Bears have coached in the Reese’s Senior Bowl three times, going 2-1 in those games.
“We’re excited for this opportunity to get a hands-on look at some of the top draft-eligible players in the nation,” said Bears head coach John Fox, who in 28 years of coaching in the NFL has never coached in the Senior Bowl. “The Senior Bowl experience will provide our coaches and personnel staff an extended chance to evaluate these players in a one-on-one setting which could prove to be very valuable as we approach the NFL Draft. It’s a great opportunity to spend some extra time with these guys and see how they respond to our staff.”
Chicago last coached in the Senior Bowl in 1996 under head coach Dave Wannstedt, and also coached in 1992 (Mike Ditka) and 1976 (Jack Pardee).
“Fox is a veteran coach that understands the importance of the Reese's Senior Bowl and its impact on a team's draft preparations,” Savage said. “He and his coaches will maximize this week of exposure to some of the nation's top collegiate talent."
Players will arrive by Jan. 23 to begin practices the next day and the 68th Reese’s Senior Bowl is scheduled for January 28, at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. CT.
Both the NFL Network and ESPN will televise the practices during the week and NFL Network will carry the game live on Saturday.