NEW ORLEANS -- A new college football all-star game aimed at
raising the profile of top pro prospects from historically black
colleges or universities will begin play in New Orleans after next
"This game is something that's been needed for some time,"
former NFL linebacker Richard Harvey said during a media conference
Wednesday to announced the launch of the HBCU All-Star Classic.
Black college players "have not been afforded the proper
opportunities and proper exposure," he said.
The game will be played in 30,000-seat Tad Gormley Stadium, an
open-ended bowl-shaped stadium in City Park that in recent years
has hosted Tulane's homecoming games.
The game will be much like the Blue-Gray All-Star Classic that
has long been held in Alabama (except last season because of
sponsorship problems). But all players will be selected from
historically black colleges or universities, such as Grambling
State, defending champion of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
About 90 current NFL players -- including Steve McNair, Jerry
Rice, Shannon Sharpe and Michael Strahan -- attended historically
black colleges or universities, also called HBCUs.
Grambling coach Doug Williams also played at Grambling before
joining the NFL and eventually leading the Washington Redskins to a
Super Bowl XXII victory.
"The contributions have been there," said Harvey, an HBCU
spokesman. "The goal is for the HBCU to provide the information
and knowledge to step into the pro ranks."
Harvey said a number of current or former NFL players have
expressed interest in helping put on the HBCU event, and that
negotiations are ongoing with several major sponsors.
There are about 105 colleges with HBCU status nationwide, about
43 of which have football programs. Most of the schools are in the
Harvey did not attend a historically black college, but spent
much of his life in the Southeast. He is a Mississippi native who
played in college at Tulane and spent part of his pro career with
the New Orleans Saints.
New Orleans, also home to the Bayou Classic involving Grambling
and Southern, is the perfect place to host an HBCU all-star game,
Harvey said, both because of where the city is and because of how
much people enjoy visiting.
"When I talk to NFL guys about participating, the first thing
they says is, 'Where's it being held? New Orleans? I'm there!"