By Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor
Office of Public and Employee Communications

While next month’s Super Bowl will have fans glued to their television sets, there’s another game played a week earlier which has state prison staff joining police and fire personnel on the field to raise money for charity.

On Jan. 30, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation staff from multiple institutions will join other public safety employees for the annual Guns and Hoses “Pig Bowl” football game.

For weeks, players have been practicing during their off time.

Sgt. Vince Tapiz, with California Medical Facility, has been with the department for a dozen years and this marks his third Pig Bowl.

“I play in this game not only because I love the game of football but also for the tradition and history behind the game,” he said. “This is one of the longest running charity Pig Bowl games in the country and it is an honor to be able to participate in such a great event and to be able suit up with some great officers and true heroes of the community.”

He said it’s an honor to play in the 42nd Pig Bowl.

“To be allowed to play … and honor the guys who played in the past and have kept this game going, I am grateful they allow CDCR officers to participate in such a great event that gives back so much to the community,” he said.

He’s no stranger to the gridiron.

“I played football all four years in high school and played one year of college football before I joined the Department,” he said. “It is a great to be back in pads and be on the field hitting and competing against one another. It’s a great feeling and makes you feel young again.”

Sgt. Tapiz said community support for the game is a great motivator.

“I think my greatest memory playing in the Pig Bowl was experiencing game day that first year I played,” he recalled. “To see how many people in the Sacramento community came out to support their first responders was amazing to me and to see how big the game was. I loved seeing the support and love the people had for their local officers and firemen.”

Folsom State Prison Sgt. Joseph Eyerman is putting on the pads for the seventh time this year.

“I always dreamed of playing for Sac State,” he said. “I played at Sacramento City College, but each year I get to play in the Pig Bowl, and for all that tradition means to me, I also get to play at Sac State.”

Sgt. Eyerman is also following in his father’s footsteps by taking classes at the state college.

“CSUS is my deceased deputy sheriff father’s alma mater and is soon to be mine,” he said.

(Editor’s note: Read more about Sgt. Eyerman’s commitment to the game in last year’s Pig Bowl story, http://www.insidecdcr.ca.gov/2014/12/cdcr-employees-don-helmets-for-charity-football-game/)

Playing on the field is also about connecting with other agencies as well as other CDCR employees.

“There are some guys I have worked with throughout my career who are out here practicing with us and it is great to see them again and to catch up and play side by side with them in the game,” Sgt. Tapiz said.

While the Pig Bowl is an exhibition game, it’s also full-contact.

“Practices are rough. We train hard for this game and there is a lot of contact and hitting going on leading up to the game. We have three practices a week for a month before the game and they are very intense. Everyone is fighting for a position out here,” he said. “We all train and condition for months before practices begin to get our bodies in shape. Nobody takes this game lightly.”

He said the game is a good reminder of aging.

“It takes a toll on the body. We are not all young guys anymore and it is hard to juggle our busy schedules to get here to practice. It takes commitment and some sacrifices,” Sgt. Tapiz said. “It is also great to meet new officers who work in all different police departments and institutions in the area all coming together for one common goal and that is to keep this great tradition going.”

While 42 years is impressive, the players and organizers have a goal in mind.

“We want to try to get this game to the 50th Pig Bowl and to keep giving back to the community so hopefully with the help from the community we can keep this game going for many years to come,” he said.

Charity and bragging rights

Pig Bowl chairman Lt. Jim Barnes, with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, said the game is fun for fans of the sport as well as those who don’t regularly watch football.

“The game evolved into a full-contact football game for charity,” said Lt. Barnes. “What makes this game unique is the sacrifices the players make each day.  They work various shifts and run on little sleep. In between that time they contribute to family time and then participate in practices which takes a toll on their bodies.  I truly believe people are surprised at the level of competition and hard hits that occur in this charity football game.  This is all done for the sake of raising money for local charities.  I would be remiss if I did not say this is also for bragging rights. Each year after the game we have 364 days to brag to the other side. There have been many times were we have showed up on calls where fire personnel are there and I notice someone I played against.  If we won that year, that encounter is a lot more enjoyable because they do not hesitate to remind us when the Fire Team wins.”

Simply by attending, charities benefit.

“By attending the game, people are contributing to the Pig Bowl Guns and Hoses non-profit charity which in turn donates the money to local charities within our region,” he said. “The primary recipients of the money donated goes to the Sheriff’s Department Toy Project, Fire Fighter Burn Institute, both Law and Fire Chaplaincies, and many other organizations. Over the years, the Pig Bowl Guns and Hoses charity has donated over $1.4 million to the local community. That is not bad for a bunch of older men playing football.”

Lt. Barnes said it takes a lot of planning to pull off a game of this nature.

“The planning and logistics for this game takes a small army. We have one of the best committees I have ever been a part of,” he said. “We are all volunteers consisting of retirees and current law enforcement and firefighters. Although it is an annual game, it takes hundreds of phone calls to confirm volunteers and vendors.”

More than football

“This year, prior to the game, we have a kids safety fair starting at 11 a.m. and kickoff is at 1 p.m. At halftime, we have a K-9 demonstration. Also, we’ll be honoring the East Nicolaus High School football team for them winning the state championship,” Lt. Barnes said. “For the first time we are inducting 16 people to the Pig Bowl Guns and Hoses Hall of Fame.”

KNOW AND GO

WHAT: 42nd annual Guns and Hoses Pig Bowl

WHEN: Noon pre-game, 1 p.m. kickoff, Jan. 30

WHERE: California State University, Sacramento, 6000 J St., Sacramento

HOW MUCH: $10 per ticket, children 5 and younger are free

CHARITIES

The Pig Bowl has supported Firefighters Burn Institute, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Toy Project, Families in Early Autism Treatment, Volunteers in Victims Assistance – Project Hands On, CSUS Athletic football program, Sacramento Access TV, schools and more.

MORE INFORMATION

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

Online: www.pigbowl.com

Phone: (916) 715-3132