NFL Stars Take on the Sport Fishing Championship

Jun 4, 2024 by Kevin Maher

Seven teams of NFL stars were paired with Sport Fishing Championship teams for their annual made-for-TV competition, “The Catch.”

Do NFL stars’ catching skills translate to professional sportfishing? The Sport Fishing Championship (SFC) put that to the test in their made-for-TV competition, “The Catch,” which took place April 18–20 at Pier Sixty-Six in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Seven teams of NFL stars were paired with Sport Fishing Championship teams for the annual show, which aired live on CBS Sports Network. The entire weekend supported the Coast Guard Foundation.

Stakes were high for the second iteration of “The Catch,” with last year’s champions Capt. Taylor Sanford and NFL star Dalvin Cook returning to defend their title. This time around, Dalvin’s brother James, running back for the Buffalo Bills, joined the team.

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“The best part of ‘The Catch’ is that it’s all or nothing,” Dalvin said. “It’s like the playoffs or the Super Bowl — you win and you’re in, you lose and you’re out. It’s a one-shot deal. That’s the competitiveness I thrive in.”

Sanford matched Dalvin’s competitiveness, but also highlighted the unique dynamic between professional anglers and football players. 

“When we get people on board who have limited sailfishing experience, whether they are charter guests or NFL players, we need to coach them up a bit. The greatest advantage about fishing with the NFL players is that they are used to being coached and are superb listeners who take direction well, whether it’s coaching them how to set circle hooks, or when to reel and when not to. That’s what makes a successful team, listening to all the players in the cockpit. It’s a total team effort,” Sanford said.

Captains and crew on the different sportfishing vessels were all in charge of helping the NFL stars learn the ropes, with 12 players making their “The Catch” debut, and two players, New York Jets’ Defensive Tackle Quinnen Williams and Dalvin, returning for their second tournament. Dalvin and James weren’t the only brother duo to compete in this year’s tournament, as Quinnen’s brother Quincy, a linebacker for the New York Jets, also competed alongside SFC Capt. Blake Bridges. Quinnen made sure to prepare Quincy beforehand, but he did not share all his tricks.

“No matter what size fish you catch, it’s a whole different ball game when you reel it in,” Quinnen said he told his brother. “I hope he doesn’t catch the 180-pound [fish], I want to be the one that catches it, so I didn’t give him too many techniques.”

In addition to the two teams of siblings, the rest of “The Catch” was packed with NFL stars. New Orleans Saints’ Running Back Alvin Kamara and Miami Dolphins’ Running Back Raheem Mostert joined Angler Jaselyn Berthelot on Rising Sons. Shane Guidry, owner of Harvey, was paired up with Jeffery Simmons, a defensive end for the Tennessee Titans, and Rachaad White, running back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Capt. Justin Drummond joined Bengals Defensive End Trey Hendrickson on Quantified, and the Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive duo of James Bradberry and Jalen Carter teamed up with Capt. Rob Carmichael aboard Lights Out. Jameis Winston, quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, acted as a celebrity reporter for the tournament, hilariously interviewing fish that had been reeled in. Finally, New York Giants’ new pass-rushing duo of Kayvon Thibodeaux and Brian Burns looked to build chemistry with each other while sportfishing on board T-Zero with Capt. Seth Laws.

 

“Being away from the facility is always good to get with your teammates and get to know each other. We’ll be in a different setting, kind of secluded on the water, so I’m excited to see how we can use us being teammates to our advantage,” Thibodeaux said before the competition started.

Thibodeaux shared that he has fished off the coast of California before, and he isn’t the only participating NFL player who has a fishing history. Hendrickson can be seen holding his catches on his Instagram, Burns recalled tangling his fishing lines over and over until he quit, and Simmons told a story of mischievous fishing activities he got into at a young age. 

“I used to go to these sneak ponds, catfish ponds, where they were raising catfish. We would go there at like midnight and that was fun, but sometimes you’d get caught, you have to run, leave your fish — that was always my favorite memory of fishing as a kid,” Simmons said.

As the fishing commenced, Rising Sons stretched ahead of the pack. Using SFC’s billfish catch-and-release system, the Rising Sons’ squad landed four sailfish, three tuna, and one mahi-mahi for a total of 500 points, winning them the second “The Catch.” 

“Coaching Alvin [Kamara] and Raheem [Mostert] through a triple-sailfish hook-up and then landing it was amazing,” said Berthelot of Rising Sons. “It’s the first time I’ve accomplished that; to me that’s unheard of.

“Once you bring that fish in, it’s just like scoring a touchdown — that same great feeling,” said Mostert, who was tied for the most rushing and receiving touchdowns in 2023. “I learned a lot about patience and technique from the team today.”

Kamara, who is tied for the most touchdowns in a single game with six, thought long and hard about the hypothetical he was asked: Would he rather get stuffed at the one-yard line or lose a personal best sailfish?

“You on that same one-yard line if you get stuffed. As long as you have a play caller, you might have a second chance to go and get in there,” Kamara said. “I don’t know how smart them sailfish are, but I’m assuming that sailfish is not going to bite my hook the second time, so losing that sailfish [would be worse]. I’ll get another chance at that one-yard line.”

The Rising Sons’ team not only won the tournament, but also earned a $100,000 donation to the Coast Guard Foundation in their name, courtesy of Harvey Gulf.

 

“It was an awesome performance by Rising Sons/Team Verizon, and the triple hook-up made it one of the most memorable moments in the history of ‘The Catch,’” said Mark Neifeld, SFC CEO and commissioner. “Bringing together SFC’s world-best anglers with NFL superstars once again led to one of the most spectacular offshore fishing tournaments the sport has seen.”

1. Team Rising Sons: Jaselyn Berthelot, Alvin Kamara, and Raheem Mostert: 500 points

2. Team Harvey: Shane Guidry, Jeffery Simmons, and Rachaad White: 400 points

3. Team Quantified: Justin Drummond and Trey Hendrickson: 350 points

4. Team Lifeline: Blake Bridges, Quinnen Williams, and Quincy Williams: 250 points

5. Team Lights Out: Rob Carmichael, James Bradberry, and Jalen Carter: 225 points

6. Team Gypsea: Jordan Sanford, Dalvin Cook, and James Cook: 200 points

7. Team T-Zero: Seth Laws, Kayvon Thibodeaux, and Brian Burns: 100 points

Pictures courtesy of The Sport Fishing Championship. 

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About Kevin Maher

Kevin Maher is Triton's editor-in-chief.

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