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