The first-ever Pro Bowl Draft, which started Tuesday and finished with a fancy green room and oceanside TV set Wednesday, "brings another element," Eagles running back LeSean McCoy said. Smith said he's pumped to play alongside a bunch of guys he rarely sees, and Falcons legend Tony Gonzalez, who's been named to 14 Pro Bowl teams, said all this talk of the game's demise is greatly exaggerated.
"I hope they never ever switch it off this island or stop playing it," Gonzalez said. "This doesn't ever stop being fun."
Thursday's practice certainly was. Sanders was an especially vocal team captain, barking suggestions that his squad's coach, the Colts' Chuck Pagano, good-naturedly took. Players wore shorts and a variety of color-coordinated hats. And at one point, as Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown lined up next to the Eagles' DeSean Jackson and opposite Team Sanders teammates/cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Patrick Peterson, there was enough laughing to break up the whole play.
Light as these days are, Terrell Suggs warned against believing there isn't a level of competitiveness, too. Guys have pride, he said, and when among the best, "you still want to be the best."
"I knew 'Prime' was going to come and get me," he said.
"You can't get mad at me. I'm just a captain. I'm a scouting director, not the actual GM," Charles said, as a little boy dressed in a Bills jersey told him he was his favorite player. Charles thanked the little boy and then said, "Justin's just mad because we have the better team."
In the end, one of the all-time bests, Gonzalez, said if his career couldn't end at the Super Bowl, this game is the next best option.
"Look around. We're in Hawaii," he said. "How cool is this?"