By Don Chaddock, InsideCDCR editor
Photos Courtesy Sacramento Pig Bowl Association

For one Folsom State Prison employee, an upcoming charity football game is a way to honor his late father and carry on a family tradition.

Sgt. Joseph Eyerman shares a previous game with his family.

Sgt. Joseph Eyerman shares a previous game with his family.

In the late 1970s, a young Joe Eyerman, now a Sergeant at Folsom SP, recalls attending the annual Pig Bowl games with his father, a Sacramento County Sheriff’s deputy.

At the time, the county sheriff’s office was pitted against the Sacramento City Police Department in a friendly game of football. The annual tournament started in 1974.

“My dad would take me to the games as a kid in 1978 and 1979 when I was 6 or 7 years old,” he said. “I still have the pennants from the games back then. So growing up, I was going to these games.”

Now, he plays in the games. Originally, the Pig Bowl only pitted the two law agencies against each other. About a dozen years ago, they opened it to other public safety personnel. Now it’s law vs. fire and the tournament was dubbed Guns and Hoses. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation comprise about a third of the law’s 74-player roster.

123014 pig bowl logoThe next Pig Bowl Guns and Hoses game is 1 p.m. Jan. 24, 2015, at the California State University Sacramento stadium, 6000 J St., Sacramento. Gates open at 11 a.m., with pre-game at noon.

This year’s game is a tribute to the country’s armed forces.

“This will be my sixth one,” Sgt. Eyerman said. “I get to play in a game that’s been going on for 41 years. I’m very thankful for Sac County and Sac PD for allowing other agencies to be involved. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to play and carry on my family tradition of going to the game. My kids get to watch their dad play vs me just being a fan and watching.”

Memories of time spent with his father watching the game are kept alive through his participation.

Not flag football

California State Prison Solano Correctional Officer Lamont Providence is no stranger to the football field. The 33-year-old played for Grant High School, Sacramento City College, Oregon State and did a two-year stint playing on the practice team for the Green Bay Packers.

“The practice is intense. For a lot of guys who haven’t been doing anything, they’re coming off the couch and it can be hard,” Officer Providence said. “They have a good system to building you up to get ready for the game. The first practice day is mental, the second is pads and helmets and the third day is contact.”

He’s also been one of the star players.

“I have been in three Pig Bowls so far,” he said. “My first year, I received defensive MVP (Most Valuable Player). My second year, I received an honorable mention.”

Sgt. Eyerman said for some who show up to play, the activity level can be a shock.

“There are people who show up for the first practice who didn’t really prepare and it’s not what they expected. Everybody is competing for a spot. Nobody practices for a month, trains for three months, has their family and friends show up, and not play on game day,” he said. “There is a lot of ibuprofen and ice packs. … This is not a contact sport, it’s a collision sport.”

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During the game on Jan. 20, 2001, Jose Whitfield, No. 80, with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, scores his first of two touchdowns when the game was played at Hughes Stadium.

He said it takes dedication to play in the game.

“I know I’m not the only one who has to juggle a full schedule and make practice,” he said. “I have boys in sports, I went back to school, I work nights and I coach their sports teams. This game means a lot to me so we make it a big deal. It’s our day to honor all the players before us and what the tradition means.”

Something players often hear is it’s “just and exhibition game” so some expect the level of play to be low. Sgt. Eyerman and Officer Providence disagree.

“I played high school and college football,” Sgt. Eyerman said. “I think a lot of people may have the misconception it’s not competitive or that it’s a bunch of out-of-shape guys. There is a lot of talent on the field. Some of these guys played in the NFL.”

Why play?

A little more than a third of the law enforcement team’s players are from CDCR institutions.

Lt. Mike Dunlop puts on his game face for the camera.

Lt. Mike Dunlop puts on his game face for the camera.

“We (CDCR) have 26 players from five different institutions,” said Lt. Mike Dunlop, with California State Prison-Solano. “There are 74 players total (on the team). Folsom State Prison has 12, CSP-Solano has eight, California Health Care Facility in Stockton has three, CSP-Sacramento has two and California Medical Facility has one.”

According to Lt. Dunlop, the rest of the law team comprises 32 from various sheriffs’ departments and 13 from different police agencies in the greater Sacramento region, while the remaining players are from the California Highway Patrol and the California Department of Insurance.

Lt. Dunlop said it’s important to participate.

“CDCR typically does not get very much good press,” he said. “All the good things our department does rarely get recognized and this is a good way for the public to see we give back too and we care about our community.”

He said it’s definitely worth the sweat and hard work leading up to the game.

“It’s a good way for employees in CDCR to give back to their community,” he said. “We are out there sacrificing our bodies. It’s a good healthy outlet and a good way for us to support charities in our community.”

Officer Providence said it’s about giving back and reconnecting with a sport he loves.

The law team enters the field to cheers from the crowd and cheerleaders.

The law team enters the field to cheers from the crowd and cheerleaders.

“For me, I love playing in the Pig Bowl because it’s a charity event. It raises money for kids and Shriner’s (and other charities). Besides playing in the game, it’s great seeing the kids playing in bounce houses,” he said. “Football is like second nature. It reminds me of college.”

He said it’s also good for the public to see CDCR in a different light.

“I think it opened up a lot of people’s eyes because it used to just be sheriff, police and CHP. Now that they let CDCR play, it lets people see we are all on the same law enforcement team,” Officer Providence said. “It shows that people have a bigger view of law enforcement now.”

As a college player, he said it was about teamwork and camaraderie. The Pig Bowl’s Guns and Hoses tournament revives those feelings.

“It takes me back to the college atmosphere. You come out the locker room and there are 6,000 people out there yelling and the military is out there and the helicopters and planes fly overhead,” he said. “It’s an adrenaline rush. You walk out the locker room, you haven’t even touched the field yet and it really brings a good feeling to you.”

Officer Providence is a second-generation CDCR employee.

“My father Kenneth Providence worked for 31 years in CDCR and retired as a lieutenant at California Medical Facility,” he said.

What is the Pig Bowl?

Since 1974, law enforcement officers have donned a different set of uniforms to square off on the gridiron in the annual Pig Bowl, earning the winning team bragging rights for a year while raising money for charity.

A dozen years ago, the Pig Bowl switched up the game and combined law onto one team to tackle firefighters in a battle known as Guns and Hoses.

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Running back Sam Davis, No. 33, of the Sacramento Police Department, runs the ball during the Pig Bowl on Jan. 23, 1999. Courtesy photo.

According to the organization’s website, “It all began as a friendly football game on a cold day in January 1974 and grew to an event attended by over 32,000 fans.”

The Sacramento Pig Bowl Association – Guns and Hoses say the first game started a nationwide craze, pitting law enforcement or fire departments against each other on the football field.

Charities benefiting from the Pig Bowl include Volunteers in Victims Assistance (VIVA), WIND Youth Services, Sacramento Sheriff’s Toy Project, Families for Early Autism Treatment (FEAT), Firefighters Burn Institute, Sacramento Law Enforcement Chaplaincy, Sacramento Area Firefighters Chaplaincy, Sacramento County Sheriff Explorer Program, Sacramento City Fire Reserve Program and Sacramento County Sheriff Explorer Program. Donations have also been made to American River College Fire Science Scholarship, Bill Bean Scholarship – Sacramento City College and California State University Scholarship.

The volunteer players spend months preparing.

According to their websites, “players practice three to five times a week for a month prior to the game and do months of weight training to play one football game on top of working full-time. The volunteers put in months of planning and coordinating to makes this event happen. Not only are these men and women protecting and servicing the community by keeping us safe, they try to give back to local charities and non-profits on their spare time.”

Not just football

For “Star Wars” fans, the 501st Legion, a costumed charitable organization, will be on hand. The Legion is officially sanctioned by “Star Wars” creator George Lucas to represent the franchise at community events and charitable causes. They often visit children’s hospitals, raise funds for charities and march in parades.

“We’ll have multiple costumed Storm Troopers and the guy dressed as Darth Vader will be 6-foot, 8-inches, which is Darth Vader’s height,” Lt. Dunlop said.

What is the 501st Legion?

“Since 1997, the costuming organization known as the 501st Legion has spread the magic of the Star Wars genre worldwide through its authentic-looking costumes, and has become the leading force in fan-based charity events. The 501st, also known as ‘Vader’s Fist,’ is truly dedicated to brightening the lives of those less-fortunate,” the organization’s website states.

Game is televised

Can’t make the game? If you are in the Sacramento market, you can catch the game on the Access Sacramento channel through Comcast.

(Editor’s Note: Some websites may not be accessible from a CDCR computer.)

Learn more about the 501st Legion at https://www.501st.com/index.php.

Learn more about the football charity game at https://pigbowl.com/.

The CDCR players

California Health Care Facility

  • Officer Drew English #88
  • Officer Keenan Fields #29
  • Officer Timothy Merrill #81

California Medical Facility

  • Officer Vince Tapiz #68

California State Prison-Sacramento

  • Officer Leonard Casillas #17
  • Officer Maurrio Deloney #58

California State Prison Solano

  • Officer Naeem Brown #14
  • Officer Craig Hamblin #79
  • Officer Lamont Providence #10
  • Officer Jason Williams #30
  • Sergeant Chris Palwick #76
  • Sergeant Roman Thorntona #74
  • Lieutenant Michael Dunlop #42
  • Lieutenant Antronne Scotland #86

Folsom State Prison

  • Officer Ben Beza #84
  • Officer Chad Deal #20
  • Officer Miguel Gonzalez #94
  • Officer Shay-Aaron McIntyre #40
  • Officer Brian Moltzen #98
  • Officer Jamie Morris #99
  • Officer William Welcher #77
  • Sergeant Jason Crawford #26
  • Sergeant Joseph Eyerman #44
  • Sergeant Dave Lewis #66
  • Sergeant Vincent Manaois #3
  • Lieutenant John Heckman #8

Previous scores:

  • Pig Bowl I (1975): Sheriff 17, Police 18
  • Pig Bowl II (1976): Sheriff 6, Police 6
  • Pig Bowl III (1977): Sheriff 37, Police 0
  • Pig Bowl IV (1978): Sheriff 20, Police 50
  • Pig Bowl V (1979): Sheriff 16, Police 10
  • Pig Bowl VI (1980): Sheriff 14, Police 12
  • Pig Bowl VII (1981): Police 22, Sheriff 16
  • Pig Bowl VIII (1982): Police 14, Sheriff 12
  • Pig Bowl IX (1983): Police 29, Sheriff 6
  • Pig Bowl X (1984): Police 23, Sheriff 14
  • Pig Bowl XI (1985): Sheriff 20, Police 14
  • Pig Bowl XII (1986): Police 48, Sheriff 36
  • Pig Bowl XIII (1987): Sheriff 30, Police 20
  • Pig Bowl XIV (1988): Police 39, Sheriff 27
  • Pig Bowl XV (1989): Police 7, Sheriff 8
  • Pig Bowl XVI (1990): Police 17, Sheriff 6
  • Pig Bowl XVII (1991): Police 43, Sheriff 7
  • Pig Bowl XVIII (1992): Police 48, Sheriff 9
  • Pig Bowl XIX (1993): Police 27, Sheriff 6
  • Pig Bowl XX (1994): Police 23, Sheriff 6
  • Pig Bowl XXI (1995): Sheriff 19, Police 6
  • Pig Bowl XXII (1996): Sheriff 14, Police 7
  • Pig Bowl XXIII (1997): Police 15, Sheriff 7
  • Pig Bowl XXIV (1998): Sheriff 20, Police 0
  • Pig Bowl XXV (1999): Sheriff 14, Police 12
  • Pig Bowl XXVI (2000): Sheriff 28, Police 0
  • Pig Bowl XXVII (2001): Sheriff 25, Police 6
  • Pig Bowl XXVIII (2002): Sheriff 36, Police 0
  • Pig Bowl XXIV (2003) *Guns and Hoses begins: Law 37, Fire 0
  • Pig Bowl XXX (2004): Law 32, Fire 7
  • Pig Bowl XXXI (2005): Law 24, Fire 6
  • Pig Bowl XXXII (2006): Law 19, Fire 13
  • Pig Bowl XXXIII (2007): Law 30, Fire 6
  • Pig Bowl XXXIV (2008): Fire 9, Law 6
  • Pig Bowl XXXV (2009): Law 35, Fire 20
  • Pig Bowl XXXVI (2010): Fire 29, Law 22
  • Pig Bowl XXXVII (2011): Law 33, Fire 27 (OT win)
  • Pig Bowl XXXVIII (2012): Fire 39, Law 28
  • Pig Bowl XXXIX (2013): Law 20, Fire 17

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