Cronkite Header

Cronkite News has moved to a new home at Use this site to search archives from 2011 to May 2015. You can search the new site for current stories.

ASU Prep’s new field hosts NFL commissioner and Cardinals players

Email this story
Print this story

ASU Preparatory Academy’s new football field saw a matchup Thursday it probably never anticipated: an NFL commissioner versus a pro bowl defensive end.

Commissioner Roger Goodell squared off with Arizona Cardinals’ defensive end Calais Campbell in a drill in which they “pushed” each other off the line of scrimmage. The half-speed action delighted the high school players and the crowd that surrounded the pair during a short clinic on the resurfaced field.

It unfolded at the league’s annual Legacy Grant Event at ASU Prep with a press conference featuring Goodell, Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill and host committee chairman David Rousseau.

Afterward, Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton, Patrick Peterson, Campbell and Justin Bethel slipped their Cardinals jerseys on over street clothes and stepped onto the field to work with their prep counterparts.

ASU Prep received funds earlier in the fall from the NFL Foundation and the host committee to resurface the school’s ragged field and upgrade the aging scoreboard. Prior to the renovations, the field was in such poor condition that it was considered a safety hazard.

“It was terrible, really just rocks and dirt. Quite honestly, it was dangerous,” said Alexia Gallagher, director of the NFL Foundation.

Pictures taken before and after the resurfacing show the stark contrast. A rough dirt patch of land was transformed into a lush green field.

For the Legacy Event, the new scoreboard featured the number 49 wherever possible – the clock was set to 49 minutes and the “yard line” and “ball on” displays read 49.

“Today is probably one of the most classic symbols of why a community goes to this effort and why we can point with pride to the collective effort that goes into it,” Rousseau said.

Goodell echoed Rousseau’s sentiments and complimented the host committee and the Bidwell family on their successful pitch to bring the Super Bowl back to Arizona.

“This community really did come together. They presented a terrific proposal to our ownership,” said Goodell.

Each year, the NFL makes a financial donation to the host city of the Super Bowl to fund charitable projects. This year, the league donated $1 million through the Arizona Com-munity Foundation and the committee matched that for a total of $2 million.

The money will be divided among 27 recipients that fall into four areas: health, education, environment and community. The renovations at ASU Prep were the centerpieces of the event but the list of recipients also includes The Larry Fitzgerald First Down Fund, Special Olympics Arizona, Arizona Foundation for Women and Read On Arizona.

Groups across Arizona applied for the funds in the summer and fall and a grant advisory committee selected the recipients from a long list of applicants.

“We had 300 applicants in the fall asking for over $33 million, so the need was really great and it was a really tough process,” said Mackenzie Fitz-Gerald, senior manager of community relations and outreach for the Super Bowl host committee.