For the 13th consecutive year, the brightest football talent from New York City and Long Island will be the centerpiece of a football extravaganza that will raise money and awareness to fight cystic fibrosis and support youth football in the New York metropolitan area.
Boomer Esiason, the former Jets and NFL quarterback who is now an NFL television and radio analyst and talk show, announced the details of this year's Outback Steakhouse Empire Challenge all-star game, which will be held Tuesday, June 24, at Hofstra University's James M. Shuart Stadium.
The Outback Steakhouse Empire Challenge was created by Esiason in 1996 as a benefit for the Boomer Esiason Foundation, the Gunnar H. Esiason Endowment Scholarship Fund at Hofstra, and local youth football programs. The game has grown to become the crowning goal of high school football players throughout the New York metropolitan area.
Kickoff for the game is 7:30 p.m., with gates opening at 6:30 p.m. A series of pregame and postgame activities are also planned. Tickets are $15 per person and are available at the Shuart Stadium ticket booth on gameday. Ticket sales begin at 5:30 p.m.
A number of local and international companies have teamed up with the Boomer Esiason Foundation to underwrite the cost of the game and other day-long activities for the entire family. Outback Steakhouse, Canon U.S.A. Inc., USA Football, the New York Jets and many others will help the foundation raise a significant amount of money at the game.
In a recent interview, Esiason expressed his gratitude for those companies that have taken an active role in supporting their local communities.
"The support these companies have provided to the Boomer Esiason Foundation is a great example of how corporate America can make an impact in bettering the communities where employees work and live," said Esiason. "Their support for the foundation will be used to improve the lives of all those afflicted with cystic fibrosis. As both a local resident and a parent of a child with cystic fibrosis, I'm thankful for companies like Canon U.S.A., the New York Jets, USA Football and Outback Steakhouse that believe that giving back to the community is critical to their role as corporate citizens."
With the support of these and other corporate sponsor relationships, the Boomer Esiason Foundation has raised over $60 million. One of these corporations is located not far from Shuart Stadium.
"Canon U.S.A. is proud to once again be part of this special event," said Emily Reynolds, vice president and general manager, corporate communications, Canon U.S.A. "Canon is guided by the philosophy of kyosei — 'all people harmoniously living and working together into the future.' This philosophy extends to programs and causes, such as the Boomer Esiason Foundation, that support the communities in which we live and work. As a member of the New York and Long Island communities, Canon has been supporting this annual all-star classic since its beginning in 1996."
"The Outback Steakhouse Empire Challenge is an excellent example of how the entire community can be brought together, cheer on their favorite players and raise money for very worthy local and national charities," said Robert Jarvis, joint venture partner for Outback Steakhouse. "Our involvement doesn't begin or end with upper management. All our employees volunteer and participate in more than 200 community events throughout the year, including the Empire Challenge."
Free Admission to FanFest
Fans of all ages can participate in FanFest, which features Generation Jets Fest, from 4–7 p.m. in the Shuart Stadium parking lot.
Generation Jets Fest, the New York Jets' interactive theme park, includes inflatable rides, giveaways and fun for the whole family. Come out and kick a field goal, race through the obstacle challenge and test your passing skills.
Outback Steakhouse Tailgate
This annual pregame party, from 4–7 p.m. in the Shuart Stadium parking lot, is a great way to kick off the day's football fun. Outback Steakhouse provides all your tailgate needs while you enjoy the music of Arcadia.
Tailgate tickets are $100 (children 3 and under are admitted free) and are available for purchase in advance, and a reserved-seat admission to the game is included with your tailgate ticket purchase. To purchase tickets, call 516-746-0077.
* John Amirante, New York Rangers anthem singer, will honor America with the National Anthem.
* Flag presentation will be made by the Marine Corps color guard from Recruiting Station New York.
Honorary Team Captains
* 2008 New York Jets rookie class
* WR Devale Ellis, No. 80, Detroit Lions, Hofstra University, James Madison HS, 2002 Empire Challenge
* DE James Wyche, No. 90, Jacksonville Jaguars, Syracuse University, Roosevelt HS, 2001 Empire Challenge
Team captains subject to change.
About Boomer Esiason
Boomer Esiason is the former Jets and NFL quarterback, analyst for CBS Sports' "The NFL Today" and "Monday Night Football" on the Westwood One/CBS Radio Sports network, host of "The Boomer Esiason Show" on the MSG Network, and cohost on WFAN's morning radio show "Boomer and Carton in the Morning."