Celebs and former athletes play ball at the bluffs

“Access Hollywood” correspondent Maria Menounos was named the MVP of the game following her stellar performance. Photos by Sam Rubinroit / TMT

Celebrities and NFL legends were at Bluffs Park earlier this month to compete in the EA Sports Madden NFL ’11 Pigskin Pro-Am. The game, which aired Sunday on ESPN, prmoted the release of the EA Sports vide game “Madden NFL ’11.”

Despite competing against Hall of Fame football players and muscular actors, “Access Hollywood” correspondent Maria Menounos earned the MVP trophy. Menounos had five receptions for 55 yards and one touchdown, and on defense she had one sack and two tackles by successfully pulling the flags of her opponents.

Menounos played on the Gamers team alongside actors Quinton Aaron from “The Blind Side,” Joe Manganiello from “True Blood” and Ryan McPartlin from “Chuck,” as well as actress Shannon Elizabeth from “American Pie” and former Pro Bowl football players Marcus Allen, Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders. The Gamers were coached by current Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez.

The opposing Famers team included Ashlan Gorse from E!, former pro wrestler Stacy Keibler, Jesse Plemons from “Friday Night Lights,” Craig Robinson from “The Office” and James Van Der Beek from “Varsity Blues,” alongside former Pro Bowl football players Michael Irvin, Shannon Sharpe, Kurt Warner and Rod Woodson. Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Terrell Owens coached the Famers.

“All of these guys are great players,” said Warner, the Super Bowl XXXIV MVP, before the game. “From an NFL standpoint, everybody out here was a Hall of Fame player, so it is going to be fun to play with those guys.”

The game began with a footrace between portly actors Quinton Aaron and Craig Robinson to determine who would start with the ball. Robinson easily won the race to secure the opening possession for the Famers.

The Gamers got on the scoreboard first when Montana threw a touchdown pass to his favorite receiver and former San Francisco 49ers teammate Jerry Rice.

Former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Irvin twisted his ankle and had to be removed from the game. Owens, another former Cowboys wide receiver, attempted to replace Irvin on the field, but he was ruled ineligible because he is an active NFL player.

The former football stars had to play both offense and defense, forcing them to experiment at new positions. Former cornerback Sanders tried his hand at quarterback, and threw a touchdown pass to Jerry Rice.

Rice, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, proved that he was still in shape, returning a kickoff the entire length of the 40-yard field and making several spectacular receptions.

With just over a minute left in the game, and the Famers down a score, Woodson intercepted a Montana pass that allowed the Famers to regain possession and score to take their first lead of the game. However, with only seconds remaining, Sanders caught a pass within the five-yard line. Gonzalez immediately called a timeout, giving the Gamers one last opportunity to retake the lead. “Joe Cool” Montana lived up his nickname and calmly threw the winning touchdown pass to former Kansas City Chiefs teammate Marcus Allen, giving the Gamers the 90-89 win.

With the victory, the fans in sections that were designated for Gamers fans took home a free copy of “Madden NFL ’11.”