Pats surprised at lack of Pro Bowl teammates

Updated: February 5, 2004, 3:15 PM ET
Associated Press

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.

Willie McGinest
"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 Peter Boulware.

"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."

Fewest Pro-Bowlers Super Bowl Champs Since 1970
Team Pro Bowlers
'03 Patriots 3
'87 Redskins 3
'70 Colts 3
'01 Patriots 4
Law is making his fourth Pro Bowl appearance. His position as 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 make it.

"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 west side.

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."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press