Players unanimous: Keep Pro Bowl in Hawaii

HONOLULU — Speaking Tuesday at the Pro Bowl news conference, Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie said the state “will do everything we can” to keep the NFL’s all-star game, a notion heavily supported by players on hand.

“This is a unique place to get away,” Chargers WR Vincent Jackson said. “It’s still the U.S., but you kind of feel like you’re in a foreign country. They obviously do a great job with the accommodations out here. It’s great for the family, so I hope they keep it out here.”

Vikings DE Jared Allen is on his fourth Pro Bowl roster, including two years ago when the NFL stopped a 30-year run in Hawaii and decided to experiment with holding the game in Miami.

“When it was in Miami, it was kind of just like, eh, we’re in Florida,” Allen said. “So coming across, everybody’s on vacation, more relaxed, less stressful. It’s really family oriented over here, which is cool. It’s kind of like your reward for success instead of going to a city that you got to all the time.”

Panthers WR Steve Smith suggested he wouldn’t even be here if the game wasn’t held in Hawaii, and Allen couldn’t agree more.

“That’s a lot of players’ attitude, I think. If it’s in an NFL city, you’re in those cities quite often,” Allen said. “I found in Miami, you’re at the hotel signing autographs 99 percent of the time. It was just kind of chaotic, guys weren’t showing up, you had a lot of alternates in and out. Over here, it’s kind of what everybody looks forward to. Even if you had a crappy season, ‘I made it to Hawaii.’ I like it. It’s been a tradition. They started it here, they should keep it here.”

It almost seems wrong that Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, a two-time Super Bowl champion, is here for just the second time in eight seasons, the last time coming after the 2007 season.

“I think it should stay here,” Roethlisberger said. “I think guys like coming here and getting a little vacation. You know, you get a paid vacation. That’s what this is. It’s an opportunity, and guys should be rewarded for their work during the season.”

– Aron Angel

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