Golf Channel teams up with the National Football League this fall for the network’s popular BIG BREAK reality competition series’ 20th season by featuring several of the NFL’s all-time greats playing alongside aspiring professional golfers. BIG BREAK NFL will premiere Tuesday, Oct. 8 at 9 p.m. ET and airs weekly on Tuesdays nights.
NFL legends competing on BIG BREAK NFL include Hall-of-Famers Jerry Rice and Chris Doleman, along with Tim Brown, Marc Bulger, Al Del Greco and Mark Rypien. Filmed at Dorado Beach Resort in Puerto Rico, the series will feature each of the six NFL legends – all boasting single digit handicaps with several having competed in PGA TOUR and Web.com Tour events – joining two BIG BREAK competitors (one male and one female) to form three-person teams. On the line will be $50,000 to the winning NFL legend’s designated charity, along with 2014 PGA TOUR and LPGA Tour tournament exemptions, cash and other prizes for the BIG BREAK competitors.
“I have been a fan of BIG BREAK for a long time, and I wanted to experience the pressure and excitement of competing on this series first-hand,” said Hall-of-Famer Jerry Rice, who will be playing this week at the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe, airing on NBC. “The nerves we all faced on this show – knowing that everything potentially was on the line for your team with one golf shot – are experiences I will never forget.”
Golf Channel’s BIG BREAK show concept pits highly skilled golfers against each other in a variety of challenges that test their physical skills and mental toughness. During BIG BREAK NFL, teams will be subject to skills challenges from tee-to-green, including two of the series’ signature challenges, the popular “Glass Break” and “Flop Wall” challenges. The series also will feature special guest appearances from World Golf Hall-of-Fame member and Puerto Rico’s own Chi Chi Rodriguez and two-time Super Bowl winner and NBC’s Football Night in America analyst Rodney Harrison.
NBC Sports’ Sunday Night Football sideline reporter and Emmy Award-winner Michele Tafoya also joins Golf Channel’s Tom Abbott to co-host BIG BREAK NFL. Tafoya, who has covered the NFL for more than 10 years, is entering her third season as a sideline reporter for NBC after seven years with ABC and ESPN as a sideline reporter for Monday Night Football.
“I’m thrilled to host BIG BREAK NFL and to watch these NFL legends bring their competitive team experiences from the football field to the golf course,” said Tafoya. “I have covered these players for many years, and I’ve seen them deal with a lot of situations. But the pressure they face on BIG BREAK NFL is unique and much different from anything they have experienced before.”
“BIG BREAK is a popular staple of our original series franchises, and we are honored to partner with the NFL to commemorate the series’ 20th season,” said Tom Knapp, Golf Channel senior vice president of programming. “With this unique team format and the sheer competitive nature the NFL legends will bring to the series, it will be exciting to see how the teams handle the pressure of playing in front of cameras and for each other.”
“When Golf Channel approached us about this program, we were excited to work with them to bring our fans closer to some of our greatest players in a new and unique way,” said Tracy Perlman, NFL vice president of entertainment marketing and promotions. “We are pleased to be working with Golf Channel to give some of the greatest to ever play in the NFL the opportunity to compete against one another on a different playing field and for good causes.”
Serving as the backdrop for BIG BREAK NFL will be the luxurious Dorado Beach Resort in Dorado Beach, Puerto Rico. Produced in partnership with the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, the series will unfold on the resort’s historic East Course, a par-72 layout that features panoramic sight lines of the Atlantic Ocean on 15 of 18 holes. Originally designed by Robert Trent Jones, the course was recently redesigned by Robert Trent Jones II, bringing the classic seaside course into the 21st century.
'It is an incredible honor to be the host for BIG BREAK NFL and on behalf of all of Dorado Beach, we welcome our viewing audience from around the world,” said David Tyson, general manager and chief operating officer, Dorado Beach Resort. “Not only will viewers be entertained by the skills of the participants, but also they will enjoy learning more about the Dorado Beach legacy and all the elements that are the cornerstones of this unique tropical lifestyle. It is often said that at Dorado Beach, time is not measured in hours or days, but in sunrises and sunsets.”
“We are very excited about our partnership with Golf Channel‘s BIG BREAK NFL and looking forward to letting viewers know what Puerto Rico offers to those looking for the perfect Caribbean golf vacation,” said Ingrid Rivera Rocafort, Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company. “We are certain our Island, with its lush mountains, world class golf courses, luxurious resorts, and endless activities, will provide a vibrant and sophisticated backdrop to the competition.”
NFL Legends Competing on BIG BREAK NFL:
Tim Brown (46, Dallas, Texas, 3 handicap) – The first wide receiver in history to win the Heisman Trophy award in 1987, Brown is one of the most prolific wide receivers in NFL history. He played in the NFL for 17 years, including 16 seasons with the Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders. Brown carries a 3 handicap and will compete on behalf of the Tim Brown Foundation, which supports programs and initiatives nationwide for mentoring and education programs for teens, including the Athletes & Entertainers for Kids and 911 for Kids.
“Jerry Rice and I are not only long-time friends and teammates, but also we are fierce competitors on the golf course,” said Brown. “On BIG BREAK NFL, we renew our rivalry.”
Marc Bulger (36, Sarasota, Fla., 4 handicap) – A 10-year NFL veteran quarterback, Bulger competed with the St. Louis Rams for nine years, highlighted by two Pro Bowl appearances (2004, 2007) and the 2004 Pro Bowl MVP. Bulger holds a 4 handicap and will be competing on behalf of the Marc Bulger Foundation, which provides funding to a diverse range of programs benefiting men and women in the armed services, as well as police and fire personnel. Potential winnings will support the Marine Corps Scholarships Foundation, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year honoring Marines by educating children.
“Since I have only been retired from the NFL for two years, BIG BREAK was a great opportunity to feel the competitive ‘rush’ that all of us NFL players miss once our playing days are over,” said Bulger. “It was an amazing experience getting to compete against true NFL legends in another sport we all have a passion for, while at the same time fulfilling a second passion of mine, helping our men and women in uniform. BIG BREAK exceeded all of my expectations.”
Al Del Greco (51, Birmingham, Ala., +1 handicap) – A great placekicker in NFL history, Del Greco’s 17-year NFL career included stints with the Green Bay Packers, Arizona Cardinals and the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans, finishing his career 17th on the NFL’s all-time scoring list with 1,584 points. Del Greco carries a +1 handicap, has competed in two Web.com Tour events and is a past champion of the American Century Championship. He will compete on behalf of The Bright House Foundation, a non-profit organization that serves Alabama communities by creating, supporting and enhancing the services provided for children and adults with special needs.
“I am a huge fan of BIG BREAK, and I’ve seen almost every season,” said Del Greco. “The pressure of BIG BREAK was a humbling experience. A simple golf shot on the series becomes almost unplayable.”
Chris Doleman (51, Atlanta, Ga., 3 handicap) – With a career spanning 15 years which included eight Pro Bowl selections, Doleman was inducted in 2012 into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and is recognized as one of the top defensive players in NFL history. Doleman carries a 3 handicap and will be competing on behalf of the Chris Singleton Foundation, which provides financial support to non-profit organizations that are making impact in three social justice initiatives: helping in the fight against human slavery, providing solutions for “At Risk Youth” and making safe drinking water to those in need.
“The pressure on this series is totally different from competing on the football field,” said Doleman. “It was one of the harder things I have ever done, and was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Jerry Rice (50, Atherton, Calif., 1 handicap) – Hall-of-Fame wide receiver and three-time Super Bowl champion, Super Bowl XXIII MVP Jerry Rice is widely regarded as the best wide receiver ever to play in the National Football League. Rice carries a 1 handicap and has competed in four Web.com Tour events. He will compete on behalf of the Jerry Rice 127 Foundation, which provides financial support to agencies and organizations in the San Francisco Bay area and beyond dedicated to helping children and their families.
“I have been a fan of BIG BREAK for a long time, and I wanted to experience the pressure and excitement of competing on this series first-hand,” said Rice. “The nerves we all faced on this show – knowing that everything potentially was on the line for your team with one golf shot – are experiences I will never forget.”
Mark Rypien (50, Spokane, Wash., 1 handicap) – The first Canadian-born quarterback to start in the NFL, Rypien’s 12-year NFL career – the majority with the Washington Redskins – included two Super Bowl championships, Super Bowl XXVI MVP and two-time Pro Bowl selection (1989 and 1991). On the golf course, Rypien carries a 1 handicap and was the first professional athlete from another sport to compete in a PGA TOUR event (1992 Kemper Open). He will compete on behalf of the Mark Rypien Foundation, built after Rypien lost his three-year-old son, Andrew, to cancer in 1998. The foundation raises and provides funding to support unique programs and projects that help address the needs of children with cancer and foster a healing environment for child cancer patients.
“As a fan and observer of BIG BREAK, you do not get an appreciation or truly get a feel for the challenges the contestants face,” said Rypien. “As a contestant, it was the most challenging sports endeavor that I have faced. Great fun, great memories and an incredible, yet challenging, bucket list experience.”
Past BIG BREAK champions have won tournament exemptions to compete on some of the world’s top professional circuits, including the PGA TOUR, Champions Tour, European Tour, LPGA Tour, Web.com Tour and Canadian Tour.
Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey, BIG BREAK VII: REUNION champion and PGA TOUR professional, captured his first PGA TOUR victory in 2012 at The McGladrey Classic and is playing full-time on the PGA TOUR. 2011 Solheim Cup team member Ryann O’Toole (BIG BREAK SANDALS RESORTS competitor) and 2009 U.S. Solheim Cup Team member Kristy McPherson (BIG BREAK VI: TRUMP NATIONAL competitor) are currently playing full-time on the LPGA Tour. Several other past BIG BREAK competitors are currently competing on the world’s top tours, including Matt Every (PGA TOUR), James Nitties and Mark Silvers (Web.com Tour) and Kim Welch, Nicole Smith, Gerina Piller, Kelly Jacques (LPGA Tour).
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