NFL's Pro Bowl a bittersweet affair for players

NFL's Pro Bowl a bittersweet affair for players

Jan. 28, 2010GUTIERREZ ARCHIVERAIDERS PAGE RAIDERS VIDEOPaul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.com

KAPOLEI, Hawaii They smile, say all the right things and are careful to not bite the hand that feeds them.Its a carnival atmosphere, really, where pigskins and pineapples, stars and spam sandwiches share, and rule, the day in paradise during Pro Bowl week.Its a special week being around some other great football players (and) some great coaches, the polished Peyton Manning offered following this mornings walk-through practice in red, white and blue Pro Bowl uniforms at the players hotel, the posh Ihilani Resort & Spa.And the fans are a big part of this thing as well, so thats what this week is all about.See what I mean. The Indianapolis quarterback has mastered the art of saying something without really saying anything. And yetThere is an ironic undercurrent running through the Islands. Since the NFL moved the Pro Bowl from the week following the Super Bowl to the week before the championship game last year, effectively eliminating any Pro Bowlers selected from the AFC and NFC title teams, a looming sense of bittersweet success has become palpable here. Especially with the league bringing the Pro Bowl back to Oahu after a one-year sojourn to the Super Bowl site. It had been at Aloha Stadium since 1980.Everybody here is kind of disappointed, said Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez, selected for his 11th Pro Bowl. Especially the guys that actually made the playoffs. And for the New England staff and our Atlanta staff being the No. 1 seed, playing here is something you didnt anticipate.The coaching staffs of each conferences highest seeded team eliminated in the second weekend of the postseason have the honor, as ignominious as it may be, of coaching the Pro Bowl squads. Paging the Patriots Bill Belichick and the Falcons Mike White.But at the same time, Gonzalez added, you know we have a good time when we come out here. Fun in the sun. This is good times. Everybodys relaxing.At least when theyre able to put the immediate past behind them and move forward.The New York Jets and Chicago Bears had stakes driven through their hearts a mere five days ago. So forgive the likes of Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis and Bears defensive end Julius Peppers if theyre not exactly running around Waikiki Beach with puka shells around their necks, grass skirts around their waists and toasting mai-tais to the NFLs all-star game. GUTIERREZ: Pro Bowl Postcard (12811)
Falling one game shy of an ultimate goal playing in the Super Bowl kinda stings.It can be bitter in a lot of ways because you want to be in the Super Bowl but I think this is just another situation where ,if you make the Pro Bowl, you come out here and its a vacation, you have your family out here and try to have a good time, said Revis, who had eight tackles and one pass defensed in the Jets 24-19 loss to Pittsburgh. He is one of three Jets in this Pro Bowl, along with left tackle DBrickashaw Ferguson and center Nick Mangold.Youve got to trade your emotions over, Revis said. You have to switch them and just try to make this a positive trip as much as you can.Peppers was trying to take the high road and was obviously still stinging from the Bears 21-14 home defeat to Green Bay.Being in Hawaii for the Pro Bowl instead of gearing up for the Super Bowl in Arlington, Texas. Bittersweet, much?Yeah, of course, said Peppers, who had two tackles, a quarterback hurry and a roughing the passer penalty against the Packers. It is what it is. Everybody wants to be playing (in the Super Bowl) but everybody cant play. We gave it our best shot so, you know, come in (to the Pro Bowl). Youve got to come in. Obviously, we want to be playing but we cant.Peppers is in Hawaii with Bears teammate and kick return specialist Devin Hester.Yeah, its a short turnaround, Peppers said. But when you get voted to come out here, you want to come out here and show up for the fans that voted for you.And, no matter how much it hurts and how bittersweet it all may taste, to keep that smile on the face.What's your take? Email Paul and let him know. He may use it in his Mailbag.

Instant Replay: Sharks makes most of opportunities in win over 'Canes

Instant Replay: Sharks makes most of opportunities in win over 'Canes

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE – After a disappointing defeat less than 24 hours earlier, and with a four-game road trip on the horizon, the Sharks could have overlooked Carolina on Saturday night at SAP Center.

Although it wasn’t their cleanest game, and they managed just 20 shots on goal, the Sharks got past the Hurricanes, 4-3. San Jose’s modest two-game losing streak came to an end.

Twice the Sharks took a one-goal lead, and twice the Hurricanes responded. At 11:02 of the second period, Joakim Nordstrom’s shorthanded goal on a partial breakaway knotted the score at 2-2.

The Sharks tallied a pair of scores to take a 4-2 lead into the dressing room at the second intermission, though. Logan Couture redirected a Brent Burns wrist shot at 12:18, and less than two minutes later Kevin Labanc smacked in the rebound of a Dylan DeMelo shot off of Cam Ward’s pad at 14:10.

Carolina got back to within 4-3 in the third period, taking advantage of an ill-advised cross-checking minor on Brenden Dillon. Derek Ryan was left alone in front of the net, and slipped a shot through Aaron Dell’s five-hole at 3:42.

Carolina pulled Ward for the extra attacker with about two minutes to go, and Dell made a key save on a Jeff Skinner rebound with 20 seconds left to preserve the win.

San Jose beat Carolina for just the fifth time in the past 15 meetings (5-8-2). The Hurricanes won the only other matchup on Nov. 15, 1-0.

There was a flurry of goals early.

The Sharks opened the scoring just 12 seconds into the game, when Patrick Marleau finished off a two-on-one rush with Joe Thornton. Carolina responded shortly after that on Lee Stempniak’s power play goal at 1:59, but the Sharks reclaimed the lead when Paul Martin’s point shot nicked Brett Pesce’s skate and fluttered through Ward at 3:14.

The Sharks lost Marc-Edouard Vlasic in the second period. The defenseman left for a stretch in the middle frame, returned for a shift, but did not play at all after that.

Carolina went 1-1-1 on its three-game road trip through California.

The Sharks completed a stretch of eight home games out of 10, and begin a four-game road trip in Toronto on Tuesday.

Special teams

The Sharks went 0-for-1 on the power play, going up against the league’s best penalty kill.

Carolina finished 2-for-2. San Jose is just 23-for-32 on the PK in its last 12 games (71.8 percent).

In goal

Dell was making his fourth start of the season, getting both Carolina games while the other two were against the Islanders. He improved to 3-1 on the season with 30 saves.

Ward took the loss, allowing four goals on 20 shots goals. It was just his second loss to the Sharks in his career in eight decisions (6-2-0).

Lineup

David Schlemko missed his third straight game with a right ankle injury. Matt Nieto, a scratch for the previous five games, replaced Micheal Haley on the fourth line.

Burns’ three-game goal-scoring streak was halted.

Up next

The Sharks will visit Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Chicago on their upcoming roadie, playing four games in six nights, before returning home to host Calgary on Dec. 20.

Seattle wins MLS Cup, beating Toronto on penalty kicks

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USATSI

Seattle wins MLS Cup, beating Toronto on penalty kicks

TORONTO -- Roman Torres scored in the sixth round of penalty kicks to give the Seattle Sounders their first MLS Cup title, 5-4 over Toronto FC after 120 scoreless minutes Saturday night.

It was the first MLS Cup final to fail to produce a goal in regulation, setting the stage for a dramatic tiebreaker.

While Toronto's Michael Bradley and Alvaro Fernandez for Seattle had both seen their shots saved, the game went to sudden-death spot kicks. Toronto's Justin Morrow could only clatter his shot off the crossbar, setting the stage for Torres to win it with a high shot down the middle of the goal.