FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — It’s times like today’s players family barbecue that remind you the Pro Bowl is about more than just the players and their individual achievements. It’s about their loved ones and the good times they have with them — their wives, kids, brothers, sisters, in-laws, everybody.
The NFL had a nice setup for the Pro Bowlers and their families this afternoon along a strip of beautiful beach behind the teams’ hotel. A highlight was a Disney Pirate Zone for the kiddies that featured Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, and, well, lots of pirates. Dozens of players were on hand to take it all in: Aaron Rodgers, Jason Witten, DeAngelo Williams, Donovan McNabb, and Nnamdi Asomugha, among dozens of others were seen chowing down on the tasty grub and refreshing drinks on hand (I can vouch for how good they were).
It was really nice to see the players with their kids in the Disney area. David Akers was having a sword fight with his little boy, and Kyle Vanden Bosch was taking pictures with the Disney characters and his toddler. All of the kids in that area were having a blast — almost made me wish I was 6 years old again.
It was also cool to see Brian Dawkins, who’s been to his share of these, playing some horseshoes, although I don’t think he was faring too well against his friend, who kept talking mess to Dawkins — but in jest.
All in all, this really was a great event under the sun, with the DJ spinning everything from Bob Marley to Beyonce to Kid Rock. NFL VP/football operations Ray Anderson made a good point when I spoke to him during the BBQ: You’ve got the NFL and Disney and the beach, to boot.
— Simon Samano