PHOENIX – The ninth annual Latino Bowl kicked off at the site of the Super Bowl on Thursday as both NFL legends and Hispanic celebrities combined to play flag football for thousands of fans.

The game was sponsored by Univision and Under Armour and featured Hall of Famers, Derrick Brooks and Deion Sanders, three-time Pro Bowler, Mark Brunell, 1997 Offensive Rookie of the Year, Warrick Dunn, seven-time Pro Bowler Torry Holt, former Arizona Cardinals quarterback, Jake Plummer, the all-time rusher in Jacksonville Jaguars history, Fred Taylor and arguably the greatest tight end in NFL history, Tony Gonzalez.

Gonzalez lined up on against his wife October Gozalez who played for the NFC team, which wore purple Under Armour jerseys as opposed to the AFC team, which wore orange jerseys. In addition to Gonzalez, other Hispanic celebrities included former Miss USA winner Susie Castillo, actor Khotan Fernandez, star of CSI:Miami, Adam Rodriguez, comedian Carlos Santos, and Univision Deportes personalities, Lindsay Cassinelli, Jessica Cediel, Hristo Stoichkov and William Valdez.

Current Arizona Cardinals stars Patrick Peterson and Michael Floyd coached both reams respectively and the game was commentated by former San Diego Chargers defensive end Luis Castillo and Univision Deportes Jorge Perez-Navarro. Adriana Monslave was on the field interviewing players before and after the game as well as in between quarters.

The game was a lopsided affair as the NFC team (purple) won 46-24 over the AFC team (orange). The 1994 Ballon d’Or winner and former FC Barcelona striker, Hristo Stoichkov won the MVP of the game with two touchdowns. He also threw for two, two-point conversions in the victory as well.

“I am very happy,” he said after the game. “I want to thank my peers because without them none of this would be possible. Football (soccer) will always by my sport, this sport is different. I like this sport. This sport is very difficult and full of people with a lot of character.”

More importantly than the outcome of the game was the fun had on the field and the interaction the players and celebrities had with the fans. The game was a part of the NFL and Univision’s continued effort to grow the sport within the Latino Community.

“Blending cultures, blending ethnicities and we have a great time doing it,” said Deion Sanders.

The annual Latino Bowl was just one of many events targeted at the Hispanic community as throughout the week, the NFL, led by Senior Manager of Media Relations, Darlene Capiro, planned and organized over 30 events and charitable activities throughout the week of the Super Bowl. Many of the events were in conjunction with the NFL’s “Play 60 Challenge” and featured NFL players visiting communities throughout the Arizona area. All the events were a success and had an extremely positive impact on the Hispanic community.

“It’s a chance to share the game with Latinos and Hispanics as football is evolving around the globe,” added Plummer who was playing in his second consecutive Latino Bowl.

Much like the growing population in the United States, the game was a bilingual affair as both players and announcers spoke in Spanish and English. One of those players was future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez who retired from the Atlanta Falcons last year after 17 NFL seasons. Gonzalez and his family are from Huntington Beach, CA but lived in Mexico throughout 2014.

“Down in Mexico there are so many fans down there,” he said of American football. “I walk around down there and I see so many people that are like ‘Hola, Tony Gonzalez. What’s up?’ and I’m like ‘Hey, What’s up?”

Both Tony and his wife, October, come from American and Hispanic backgrounds and their family embodies the spirit of the Latino Bowl and they make great ambassadors as they join the NFL in helping spread the game to the Latino fan base.

“Tony and I come from mixed backgrounds and It’s an honor to be an advocate for your culture and to keep that alive for your family,” said October Gonzalez.

The Tazon Latino IX will air nationally on Univision and Univision Deportes on Saturday at 4:55PM EST and will air again on Super Bowl Sunday at 10:00AM EST.



A photo posted by @michaeljduarte on

Jan 29, 2015 at 11:26am PST




A photo posted by @michaeljduarte on

Jan 29, 2015 at 11:17am PST