HONOLULU -- Willie McGinest stood on the sideline at Aloha Stadium, sweating in the Hawaii sun and gulping air. He put one hand on his knees and raised the other to salute a small group of fans cheering, "Super Bowl! Super Bowl!"
Three days after the New England Patriots won the NFL title,
McGinest still hasn't caught his breath. After the celebrations in
Houston and the parade in Boston, he joined defensive lineman
Richard Seymour and cornerback Ty Law in Honolulu on Wednesday in
workouts for the league's all-star game.
"It isn't even close to sinking in, because we haven't had a
chance to think about it," said McGinest, a surprise selection to
the AFC squad as an injury replacement for Baltimore linebacker
"Right now, everybody is still on a high. I'm sore and a little
tired, but it feels good to be going here again. I haven't been
here in, what, seven years? It was time to come back, and we're
coming here in style now."
McGinest is making his first Pro Bowl appearance since 1997,
while Seymour got his second straight trip to the laid-back
anticlimax to the NFL season, now in its 25th year in Hawaii.
Seymour has big plans for a week of relaxation and recuperation,
including a snorkeling expedition, beach time and plenty of good
meals with friends and teammates.
"We've always talked about how it's the best time when you can
come over here with a Super Bowl ring," Seymour said. "Everybody
gives you a lot of respect. They realize how hard it is to make it
through the playoffs and win a Super Bowl, and I think they respect
you for giving everything you have."
one of the NFL's elite cornerbacks is indisputable, and he
appreciates the respect shown for New England's dominant defense by
Pro Bowl voters who selected him as a starter along with Seymour,
his fellow All-Pro.
But the three Patriots also wonder why more of their teammates
aren't joining them in Hawaii. They have one of the smallest
contingents for a Super Bowl winner in recent memory -- and even
Carolina sent four players to Honolulu.
Super Bowl MVP quarterback Tom Brady, who made the Pro Bowl two
years ago, will be golfing in the Pebble Beach pro-am this weekend
despite finishing third in league MVP voting and leading New
England to its second title in three seasons. None of the blockers
on his outstanding offensive line made the cut, either.
And All-Pro safety Rodney Harrison, whose inspired play was a
key to the Patriots' 15-game winning streak, missed out in favor of
Baltimore's Ed Reed, Miami's Brock Marion and Kansas City's Jerome
Woods. Linebacker Tedy Bruschi, a second-team All-Pro, also didn't
"I have no idea why there aren't more (Patriots) here, but
you'd like to see more," Law said. "It's just the way the voting
went. But another thing is that our team isn't about stars. That's
why we had a lot of the success we had. We don't feel like there
are stars. We're a complete team."
While the AFC stars worked out on the comfortable new turf at
the stadium, Philadelphia coach Andy Reid led his third straight
season of workouts for the NFC at the posh Ihilani resort on Oahu's
The four members of the Panthers are still smarting from their
32-29 loss to New England on Sunday. Defensive end Mike Rucker
described himself as depressed, and defensive tackle Kris Jenkins
is trying not to think about the heartbreaking loss.
"I just know we were so close to getting it all," said
Jenkins, a two-time Pro Bowler. "I haven't really sat back and
thought about all the good things we did this year, because it's
too fresh still. It hurts. My shoulder hurts, too, but I've got
time to get everything right now. This is a good time."