Hawaii? Even Bucs' Pro Bowl players OK with Orlando
For most of its history, the real perk of going to the Pro Bowl -- as an NFL player, as a coach, as a fan, as a reporter -- was Hawaii, the king of All-Star venues.
Picture a Pro Bowl in the past, chances are the player has a lei around his neck, each commercial break buffered by a spectacular shot of waves crashing on a pristine beach or a volcano in the distance. So with this year's game and the next two years in Orlando -- Sunday's game at Camping World Stadium and this week's practices at Disney's Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista -- you could expect a understandable drop in excitement, compared to its island predecessor.
Not so, however, asking even the Bucs players whose postseason getaway is barely 90 minutes up I-4 from their home.
"I'm not even a big fan of Hawaii," said receiver Mike Evans, pondering the challenges of taking his 2-month-old daughter on an eight-hour flight instead of a short drive this week. "If it was in Hawaii, that would be awesome, but that's a long flight. Family's here, so we can go to Disney World and have a great time."
McCoy, in his fifth Pro Bowl in seven NFL seasons, said he's enjoyed Hawaii in the past, but also liked the simplicity of a nearby Pro Bowl -- he got into his car to drive over for Wednesday's morning practice, realized a furniture delivery was about to arrive and went back inside. Being close also means he can keep up the busy schedule of a father of four while playing in the game this week.
"It's convenient, but then it's inconvenient," McCoy said. "I've got a lot of kids and they have events this week, so I have to drive back and forth to go to their stuff. But I'm at home, so I'm good."
Evans, making his first Pro Bowl appearance, is like a big kid, getting the chance to line up against players he's admired from afar, in some cases since he really was a kid.
"This is off the chart. It's crazy," he said. "The best athletes in the world. It's amazing. It's a great accomplishment, don't get me wrong. I know I talk about wanting to be All-Pro, but being a Pro Bowler, people look back on that. I'm happy to get that nod and be around all these great players."