Shockingly Sad

It seems holding a bowl game on Christmas Day is getting tougher and tougher, no matter how rich the tradition. Last year it was the Aloha Bowl went the way of the dinasour and now one of the few games that enabled small school players to chase their dream.

The Blue-Gray Classic, a Christmas Day tradition for 24 years, won't be played this year because organizers could not line up a corporate sponsor.  Longtime sponsor Kelly Tires did not renew its sponsorship after the 2000 game and last year 10 secondary sponsors helped pay the annual expense of the game

People around the country with ties to the Blue-Gray All-Star Classic were disappointed to learn the Montgomery sports staple since 1939 and Christmas Day fixture since 1978 was being cancelled.

Alabama State head football coach L.C. Cole said the game's absence will be felt by the city and in his program.  "That game was one of our major recruiting tools," Cole said. "You could bring a kid in and tell him if he plays well while he's here that he's got a chance to play in a nationally televised all-star game. That's a big deal on this level. We put two guys in that game last year, Tango McCauly and Darnell Kennedy. We figured David Beckford to be a shoo-in for that game this year. I'm sure all of our guys were looking forward to having a chance to play in that game. It's a shame that it's gone."

Memphis-based agent Brian Parker was one NFLPA member that signed plenty of talent from this All Star Game inking Atlanta Falcons linebacker Matt Stewart in 2000 and most recently, highly ranked guard Richard Williams last year, prior to Williams forgoing a career in the NFL. 

Parker had these thoughts;  "The game has provided exposure to NFL scouts for prospects from schools that don't have the tradition of the Florida's and Auburns," said. "For guys from teams like Vanderbilt or Memphis or I-AA schools, the exposure they received in Montgomery was invaluable."

TFY Draft Preview Analysis:  We learned that last year Blue-Gray Game organizer "Fats" Jones saw the writing on the wall and went to the NFL asking for assistance but came away empty.  The belief is there will be a game in Montgomery at the end of the 2003 season.  Its' sad because while this game rarely offered any first day picks or players that impacted the draft, it most certainly gave many small division prospects their only opportunity to play and practice in front of a collective group of NFL scouts.  It is also sad to see a college football tradition end.

Story credit must be given to the Montgomery Advertiser for much of the above information

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