NEW YORK –– Jan. 23, 2024.- NFL Announces Head Coaches for 99th East-West Shrine Bowl.- The National Football League announced today the head coaches for the 2024 East-West Shrine Bowl, Richard Hightower of the Chicago Bears and Mike Kafka of the New York Giants.
“Coaches Hightower and Kafka have the opportunity to not only evaluate top athlete prospects, but also to showcase their skills in leading players and coaching staffs in this high-profile game,» said Troy Vincent Sr., executive vice president of football operations for the NFL. “This is an important evaluation week for prospects as well as for coaches as they pursue their professional and personal goals. The game also shows the humanitarian side of football as participants greatly encourage the children and families at the Shriners Hospitals.»
Hightower has spent the past two seasons as the Bears’ special teams coordinator and completed his third year overall in Chicago in 2023 after previously serving as the club’s assistant special teams coach in 2016. Hightower has 17 years of NFL coaching experience, including stops with Houston (2006-08), Washington (2010-13), Cleveland (2014), San Francisco (2015, 2017-21) and Chicago (2016, 2022-23).
Kafka recently completed his second season as the Giants’ offensive coordinator and has seven years of NFL coaching experience. He spent five seasons as an assistant coach on Andy Reid’s staff with the Kansas City Chiefs, the last two as the team’s quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator. In 2016, Kafka served as an offensive graduate assistant at his alma mater, Northwestern University.
“We’re excited to have Mike Kafka and Richard Hightower as our head coaches for the 99th annual East-West Shrine Bowl,» said Bob Roller, vice president of sports for Shriners Hospitals for Children. “Coach Kafka played in our game 14 years ago and was the game’s most valuable player. Now, he returns to coach, develop and provide his wisdom to our quarterbacks and the entire West roster. Coach Hightower is among the best special teams coordinators in the NFL and has Texas ties as a University of Texas alum. We’re looking forward to him leading the East roster.»
At the conclusion of the NFL regular season, teams nominated deserving assistant coaches who were reviewed by a panel that includes NFL Football Operations staff, East-West Shrine Bowl leadership, members of the NFL’s General Managers Advisory Committee and the Fritz Pollard Alliance.
Coaches nominated by NFL clubs must be active assistant coaches who display extraordinary teaching and communication skills and are recognized for their integrity and commitment to excellence in the coaching profession. The coaches must be accomplished at developing and preparing players to compete in the NFL.
The 99th East-West Shrine Bowl, which features some of college football’s best prospects, will kick off at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday, Feb. 1, from Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas, and will be televised on NFL Network.
For more than 90 years, some of football’s greatest players and coaches have contributed to the tradition of the East-West Shrine Bowl, the nation’s first college all-star football game. Created by the Shriners in 1925, the game is driven by the desire to support Shriners Hospitals for Children in its mission to help children in need of expert medical care. Participating players make an annual visit to the local Shriners Hospital, visiting children and staff in an experience that they will truly never forget.