The NFL Pro Bowl was last night. Poor Hawaii. The tourist agencies hope against hope that a cold, windy, snowy, blizzard blankets the mainland so that the football
fans who watch the Pro Bowl in sunny Hawaii think, "I wish I were there." Oh
well, those circumstances did not occur this year.
We were lucky enough to travel to Hawaii 35 times since 1990. And we were there during parts of every month. Truly, it was wonderful. Perhaps the best time was August 2011 when we were fortunate enough to take our daughter and her four children, our grandchildren, with us.
Back to the Pro Bowl. Extensive research for my crime novel, "Pro Bowl Kapu," revealed that, until this All Star game was moved to Honolulu, the appearance of the football stars was iffy. But a trip to Hawaii for the athlete and his family just about guaranteed their attendance.
We were taking photos as spectators one year. The rookies were playing a game of touch football on the Fort DeRussey beach. One of the first round draft players for the New England Patriots fell, hurt his knee, and ended his career. There have been no more of those types of games since then.
Over the years, we attended the Pro Bowl press conferences and luncheons. At one of the events, Jeremiah Trotter answered questions from the press. Edgar asked if he was re-signing with the Philadelphia Eagles. He said that he wanted to but the negotiations were in the hands of his able agent. Later that month, he went to the Washington Redskins.
But the luncheons were always my favorite. No so much for the food, although the fruit was delicious, but because I was usually the only non-male in the room and the cheerleaders sat next to me. What an interesting bunch of women. Teachers, nurses, lawyers, and even a Navy aviator who was from the San Francisco 49ers. She graduated from Annapolis with a degree in computer sciences, then she went to Pensacola and bedcame a top gun and then she earned a Masters degree in Systems Analysis. I asked her if she was flying any planes now, and she replied, "Yes, a P-3." I knew that the P-3 has the large umbrella-like structure over it that covers radar equipment. "You're a spy," I whispered. She put a finger to her lips and said, "Shush."
One year, a Philadelphia Eagles cheerleader sat with us. She lived in Narberth and taught school. One year, another cheerleader called us in the evening and asked if we wanted to go to dinner with her. It was late. I had been asleep and said, "No, thank you." Edgar has been the envy of every man who has heard that
We were interviewed by members of the Hawaii press and we even appeared on CNN. The NFL demands payment from Hawaii before it will agree to hold the Pro Bowl there. The controversy revolves around the question of if the Pro Bowl brings more money into Hawaii than the NFL extorts. Our answer has always been shame on the NFL, but pay them.
The TV media kept to itself and looked down their collective noses at us print media people with the exception of Andrea Kremer. It must have been her Main Line experiences and background. She answered our questions and, even though the TV cameras wait for no one, she pretended to have ample time for us.
One of the afternoons, Referee Ron Winters spent a few minutes with us. He hailed from Seattle where he was a religious leader in his church. We asked him about the mess on the field after a fumble and he acknowledged that the fighting and grabbing is fierce. He mentionede Brian Urlacher by name as the toughest. On his way to catching the bus, he gave me an NFL pin for my Eagles ball cap.
As one of our Pro Bowl memories, we have the time that Edgar spotted a shoplifter at the NFL event in Kapiolani Park. A kid snatched a ball cap off the table of Michael Henderson's Authentic Gear wares. Edgar pointed him out. Henderson nabbed him and convinced the young thief to turn away from crime and return the cap.
Although the hoopla is fun, we never had to attend the actual game. After 9/11, the patrons could not bring anything into Aloha Stadium except ID and a ticket. And last night's game was the typical high scoring, no defense, showcase. Funny thing, during our last experience in Hawaii with the Pro Bowl, a young man rushed over to us and said he was about to make a bet. Then he asked for our advice. "Take the points and the over," we told him. The next day we saw him and he couldn't thank us enough for "the killing" that he made.