NFL Experience In Downtown Phoenix Has Something For Every Fan

Published: Thursday, January 29, 2015 - 2:23pm
Updated: Thursday, January 29, 2015 - 2:25pm
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(Jimmy Jenkins/ KJZZ News)
One of the throwing activities at NFL Experience.
(Jimmy Jenkins/ KJZZ News)
The Giants would have to be pretty desperate for this to actually happen.
(Jimmy Jenkins/ KJZZ News)
Packers fans Andy and his son Dominic.

If you head to downtown Phoenix this week, you will find lots of people in football jerseys. And, if you venture inside the climate-controlled carpeting of the Phoenix Convention Center, you’ll see even more people in football jerseys.

The NFL Experience is part amusement park, part gym, part fan fest and parts of a bunch of other things. Like, trying to kick field goals and trying to throw footballs through moving targets.

I asked Anthony, a fan from Casa Grande, if he had any football experience. He, by the way, was wearing a Cardinals jersey, while the other members of his family were sporting 49ers gear.

"No, no, no – none at all, tell you the truth," he said. "I actually work Sundays and I don’t get to watch too much football, but this is what makes it fun, coming out."

Just across the way from where Anthony was doing his best Tom Brady impression, I met a guy named Spencer Farrell.  

"I’m coordinating the quick-release program," he said. "Basically, it’s a test of speed and accuracy with regards to peoples’ throwing capabilities."

Farrell said he saw one person with a good arm come to the event.

"The very first day I was here," he said. "It was an ex-college quarterback that threw 64 miles an hour and he did not even step into it, he just did it with his arm."

The Experience includes all manner of ways to work up a sweat and, if you feel like getting winded, you can pretend you’re an NFL prospect at the pre-draft combine and run the 40-yard dash.

That’s where we caught up with Andy and his 12-year-old son Dominic.

"We’ve just been walking around," he said. "We went to the Pro Bowl and then the Media Day."

There’s also an area just for kids where they can put on the pads and run through an obstacle course. There’s also some throwing and kicking they can do. That’s what three young Steelers fans were doing. Their mom, Taylor, was watching and cheering. 

"We’re definitely big football fans, but the Super Bowl, how often do you get it in your hometown?" she said. "So we figured we’d take advantage and bring the kids down. Who knows, next time the Super Bowl’s here, the kids may be too old to really enjoy it."

No time like the present, right? After seeing so many people taking their shots, I thought I’d try playing Eli Manning for a moment. I stepped into a booth where I picked a football out of a bin, it seemed properly inflated, and took aim at two square targets.

A 50 percent completion rate probably won’t get me to the Super Bowl, but it was good enough for some high fives at the NFL Experience. The event will continue at the Phoenix Convention Center through Sunday.

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