Twitter chatter from game day of the 2013 NFL Pro Bowl in Honolulu, Hawaii:
Twitter chatter from the eve of the 2013 NFL Pro Bowl in Honolulu, Hawaii:
From free safety Earl Thomas’ Instagram: “Mom and Lil duece !!”
From free safety Earl Thomas’ Instagram: “12′swayyyyy in Hawaii..”
From free safety Earl Thomas’ Instagram: “Had a great time meeting all the fans….”
Earl Thomas and Russell Okung:
Our most valuable players:
Aloha Stadium, the site of the 2013 NFL Pro Bowl tomorrow:
Twitter chatter from Seahawks Pro Bowl Blue Friday in Honolulu, Hawaii:
Leon Washington’s wife, Charity, posted to Instagram this photo of their time at Larry Fitzgerald’s Luau:
Big Daddy Russ with 2 Chainz at a Pro Bowl concert last night:
Friday in Hawkville: Larry Fitzgerald says it’s ‘surprising’ that Richard Sherman was not voted to the Pro Bowl
KO OLINA, Oahu – Hawkville has moved to Hawaii this week, as six Seahawks are preparing to play in Sunday’s Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium. Today, we visited the J.W. Marriott Ihilani Resort and Spa as the NFC and AFC squads stayed “home” to practice:
Richard Sherman. What? The Seahawks’ cornerback isn’t even here. But then, that’s the point.
After intercepting a career-high eight passes during the regular season to tie for second in the NFL, Sherman was voted All-Pro, but not to the Pro Bowl – where the Bears’ duo of Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman are the starters for the NFC and the Cardinals’ Patrick Peterson is the third corner.
So we felt compelled to ask, “What’s up with that?”
“He had a phenomenal year. He really had a breakout year,” Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said today after the NFC’s 15-minute on-field session. “So it is surprising that he’s not here. But I know he’ll have many more moving forward.”
Fitzgerald has gotten to know Sherman quite well the past three times the NFC West rivals have met. In the 2011 season finale in Arizona, Sherman and fellow Seahawks corner Brandon Browner were so physical with Fitzgerald that he was coughing up blood on the sideline. This season, Fitzgerald caught four passes for 63 yards in the opener in the desert, with Sherman intercepting one pass and breaking up another. During the December rematch in Seattle, Sherman intercepted two passes, broke up a third and also recovered a fumble, while Fitzgerald caught one pass for 2 yards – despite being targeted 11 times.
“Hopefully, I won’t contribute to his stats as much in the future,” Fitzgerald said with a laugh.
Kick returner Leon Washington, one of the six Seahawks who are on the NFC squad, can relate to Sherman’s Pro Bowl snub.
“My first year in Seattle, I scored three touchdowns and didn’t go,” said Washington, referring to his trio of kickoff returns for scores in 2010. “It’s so weird. It works like that sometimes. But Richard is All-Pro. And that’s big. That’s almost bigger than the Pro Bowl.
“He’ll be here next year.”
MATT THOMAS HIRED TO REPLACE JOHN IDZIK
The Seahawks didn’t wait long to re-hire Dan Quinn as their defensive coordinator after Gus Bradley was named head coach of the Jaguars last week. They followed the same path after John Idzik left to become general manager of the Jets later in the week, as Matt Thomas was named today as the team’s new vice president of football administration.
“Matt is a well-respected salary cap expert and was recommended by many top-ranking NFL executives,” general manager John Schneider said. “I am excited to welcome him to our football family.”
Thomas joins the Seahawks after spending the past three seasons with the Browns in the same capacity as their salary-cap expert and chief contract negotiator. He began his NFL career in 1998 with the Dolphins and spent 12 seasons with the club, including being the vice president/general counsel & football administration in 2009.
A LITTLE ASSISTANTS, PLEASE
The NFC squad is being coached by Mike McCarthy and his Packers’ staff, which includes assistant head coach/inside linebackers coach Winston Moss. He played linebacker for the Seahawks from 1995-97 and finished second on the team with 106 tackles in 1996.
Greg Knapp, the Seahawks’ offensive coordinator in 2009, is a member of John Fox’s staff with the Broncos that is coaching the AFC squad. Knapp just joined the Broncos after spending the season as offensive coordinator of the Raiders.
AN EVEN DOZEN FOR CHAMP
Speaking of the Broncos, cornerback Champ Baily is taking part in his 12th Pro Bowl. But he definitely is not taking a ho-hum, just-another-week-in-Hawaii approach.
“I had a veteran tell me a long time ago, if you are willing to stop coming, you stop coming,” Bailey said. “Any time I’m invited to do something this special, I’m coming. Unless I’m really hurt, that’s the only way I would miss this game.”
STAT DU JOUR
Russell Wilson will become the fourth Seahawks quarterback to play in the Pro Bowl, as the rookie joins Dave Krieg, Warren Moon and Matt Hasselbeck. Here’s a look at how those other QBs have done in their Pro Bowl appearances:
Player, (season) Att. Comp. Yds. TD Int.
Dave Krieg (1984) 10 4 32 0 0
Dave Krieg (1988) 14 3 21 0 1
Dave Krieg (1989) 23 15 148 0 0
Warren Moon (1997) 8 4 89 0 0
Matt Hasselbeck (2003) 9 4 51 0 1
Matt Hasselbeck (2005) 17 10 85 0 1
Matt Hasselbeck (2007) 9 7 78 1 0
Both Pro Bowl squads will hold their final practice on Saturday morning at Aloha Stadium.
After practice today, Wilson took part in a roundtable with Broncos QB Peyton Manning, Redskins linebacker London Fletcher and Packers center Jeff Saturday that will air Sunday as part of NBC’s coverage of the game.
YOU DON’T SAY
“It’s extremely unlike me. You know me, man. Me and media, we never mix. But this is a great opportunity.” – left tackle Russell Okung on the media attention that comes with being at his first Pro Bowl
HONOLULU – Hawkville moves to Paradise this week, as the Seahawks have six players preparing to participate in the Pro Bowl on Sunday at Aloha Stadium:
Russell Wilson. What a whirlwind week the Seahawks’ rookie quarterback has had. He didn’t find out that he was being added to the NFC Pro Bowl squad until Sunday after Falcons QB Matt Ryan injured his left shoulder during Atlanta’s loss to the 49ers in the NFC Championship game.
Imagine how rushed Wilson must have been in preparing to join teammates Russell Okung, Max Unger, Marshawn Lynch, Leon Washington and Earl Thomas for their flight from Seattle to Honolulu on Tuesday. Or, think again.
“I got called right after the game,” Wilson, who was the third alternate at his position, said today following the NFC practice that was held at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. “But I was hoping that I was going to be able to go. So I was already packed and ready to go.”
The kid QB is focused, and has been since the Seahawks selected him in the third round of the NFL Draft last April. How else can you explain everything he has been able to accomplish during a rookie season that now includes a Pro Bowl berth?
“It’s obviously a blessing,” Wilson said.
Okung and Unger are not the only Seahawks offensive linemen here this week. Okung brought right tackle Breno Giacomini and right guard John Moffitt with him.
So there are six Seahawks on the NFC squad and two more who are getting a first-hand look at just how cool it is to go to the Pro Bowl.
“That’s even better,” Okung said. “That just shows you what we’re doing as a team and where we’re trying to get. We’re going to have guys come here, hopefully, every year.”
WILSON WINS “TOP VALUE” AWARD
Wilson has been voted the Vizio Top Value Performer of the Year, which measures on-field performance against earnings.
The others finalists were Redskins running back Alfred Morris, Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker, Patriots running back Stevan Ridley and Jaguars wide receiver Cecil Shorts. But, according to the release announcing his selection, a record-breaking number of fans decided that Wilson provided his team with the greatest value during the 2012 season.
“It’s an honor to win this great award, and I’d like to thank the fans for voting me as the Vizio Top Value Performer,” said Wilson. “All the finalists had fantastic seasons and were certainly deserving of this award, but I’m happy to be able to share this with my teammates and all the fans that support our team.”
STAT DU JOUR
Half the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl contingent is here for the first time – Wilson, Unger and Okung. But the other half has been here before – Thomas, Washington and Lynch, who was the NFC’s leading rusher last season and the AFC’s leading rusher in 2008 while playing with the Bills. Here’s a look at their previous Pro Bowl contributions:
Year Carries Yards Avg.
2008 6 48 8.0
2011 8 43 5.4
(also caught one passes for 2 yards in ’08)
Year Carries Yards Avg.
2008 2 22 11.0
(also caught one pass for 6 yards; and returned four kickoffs for 65 yards and two punts for 2 yards)
2011 Credited with no tackles
The NFC and AFC squads will practice on Friday, but the sessions have been moved to the J.W. Marriott Ihilani Resort and Spa, where the players are staying. The practices originally were scheduled for Kapolei High School, the site of Wednesday’s practices.
YOU DON’T SAY
“It’s even more special for me, being from Hawaii. It’s pretty cool, man. I hope they keep the game here. It’s a pretty special environment. ” – Unger, who is from Kailua-Kona on the Big Island
HONOLULU – Along the fence that separated the fans from the Pro Bowl players they had come to see was Jason Higashionna.
In a crowd estimated at 1,500 that gathered for today’s practices by the NFC and AFC teams that will participate in Sunday’s game, Higashionna was front and center. He was wearing a No. 91 Chris Clemons jersey and standing underneath a 12th Man flag.
Let’s just say that Hawaiian-born-and-raised Higashionna has not only connections, but a friend who was willing to show up at 2 a.m. at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to insure their prime viewing spot and also, well, here’s what Higashionna had to say about his flag.
“The Sea Gals gave me that flag when they came through for a Pacific Rim tour,” he said, smiling despite the rain that started to fall as the NFC squad took the field and turned into soaking showers by the time the AFC got its turn.
Higashionna then pulled out his phone and produced a picture of him surrounded by members of the Seahawks’ dance team.
“They gave me that flag,” he said. “And it was an awesome experience.”
Higashionna was among the largest pocket of several groups of Seahawks fans who turned out to see the Sea-Six – the team’s Pro Bowl contingent that includes left tackle Russell Okung, center Max Unger, running back Marshawn Lynch, quarterback Russell Wilson, kick returner Leon Washington and free safety Earl Thomas.
But he is no 12th Man-come-lately.
“I’m diehard Seahawks fan,” he said. “I fell in love with them when I watched (Hall of Fame wide receiver Steve) Largent play.”
He then turned to several others in his group and offered with a laugh, “I appreciate all these guys jumping on the bandwagon. They see the light, and I’m happy to see that.”
They also detected the lightheartedness of his comment, as it was greeted by a rowdy round of laughter.
But while half a dozen members of his team came to Higashionna this week, Matt Darlington and Ryan and John Towner came from the Mainland to see the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl Six.
“We flew over just to support our guys,” Darlington said.
After their on-field session was completed, the players “worked” the fence. They signed autographs on everything from jerseys, to Pro Bowl helmets and footballs, to a baby – yes, one fan had Wilson autograph his child. They posed for pictures. They chatted with the fans who must have felt like they were watching a practice in Renton rather than Paradise.
One fan frustrated by his inability to get Wilson’s attention broke into his best Tom Hanks’ impersonation from “Cast Away,” as he repeatedly bellowed, “Wil-l-lson-n-n. Wil-l-lson-n-n.”
“This is a great experience,” Wilson said as he was walking back across the field to the buses that were waiting to take the NFC squad back to its resort – and as the drenched fans continued to call his name.
“It’s a privilege to be here.”
DIAMOND HEAD – Make that higher ground, and make it the rim of the crater at this state monument that offers panoramic views of Waikiki beach, Diamond Head Lighthouse, the crater below and, of course, the Pacific Ocean.
Digital content coordinator Tony Drovetto and I are here to cover the six Seahawks who are preparing to play in Sunday’s Pro Bowl for the NFC squad – left tackle Russell Okung, center Max Unger and free safety Earl Thomas, who are starters; kick returner Leon Washington; and running back Marshawn Lynch and quarterback Russell Wilson, who are backups.
We flew over from Seattle today, but arrived too late to cover the first practice. So we used our late afternoon to hike to the crater rim, along with director of communications Lane Gammel. When we were making the last part of the trek to the top, a rainbow appeared against the clouds and hills to the northeast of the crater. The Chamber of Commerce couldn’t have created a more-fitting welcome to the Rainbow State.
Check back tomorrow and throughout the rest of the week when we’ll have written and video reports from the practices and the game. Thursday’s practice is being held at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, while the Friday session is set for Kapolei High School before both squads take the field at Aloha Stadium for Saturday’s workout.
Aloha for now.
Twitter chatter from the second day of the 2013 Pro Bowl in Honolulu, Hawaii:
Earl Thomas (@Earl_Thomas29 on Instagram): NFC game jerseys …
Twitter chatter from the first day of the 2013 Pro Bowl:
The view from Russel Okung’s hotel room in Hawaii.
Even the airport in Honolulu knows how to greet our first-time Pro Bowler, Russell Okung:
Add another item to Russell Wilson’s already impressive rookie-season resume: Pro Bowl quarterback.
Wilson was added to the NFC squad today when Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was forced to drop out after injuring his left shoulder during Sunday’s loss to the 49ers in the NFC Championship game. Wilson was the third alternate at his position when the team was named last month.
The Redskins’ Robert Griffin III and Packers’ Aaron Rodgers also were voted to the NFC squad, but each has dropped out of the Pro Bowl, also due to injuries, and been replaced by the Saints’ Drew Brees and the Giants’ Eli Manning.
Wilson will be heading to Honolulu this week for Sunday’s NFL all-star game, where the rookie QB will join teammates Russell Okung, Max Unger, Marshawn Lynch, Leon Washington and Earl Thomas. They were voted berths on the NFC squad, Okung and Unger as the starters at left tackle and center; Washington as the kick returner; Lynch as the backup at running back to the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson; and Thomas as the backup free safety to the 49ers’ Dashon Goldson, although Goldson won’t play in the Pro Bowl because the 49ers advanced to the Super Bowl.
Wilson led the Seahawks to an 11-5 record during the regular season and then the franchise’s first road playoff victory since 1983 when they beat the Redskins in a wild-card game. Along the way, Wilson threw 26 touchdown passes to tie the NFL rookie record and also broke the mark for rookie passer rating (100.0).