Getting to Know the 2018 Pro Bowl Players

On Sunday afternoon at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida, the AFC defeated the NFC 24–23, overcoming a 17-point deficit to win the 2018 Pro Bowl. Delanie Walker of the Titans was named the offensive MVP of the game, while the Broncos’ Von Miller took home  defensive MVP.

This was the second consecutive year the game has been held in Orlando. In addition to the Pro Bowl game itself, the NFL hosted a weeklong Pro Bowl Experience at the nearby ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex that allowed fans to observe the pros competing in a Pro Bowl skills challenge, watch kids play in the NFL Flag Football National Championships, view an EA Madden Tournament, take part in family-friendly activities, as well as watch open team practices for the AFC and the NFC.

It was at these practices where I was able to catch up with Pro Bowl players and ask questions to get to know them a little better. All of the interviews were one-on-ones, with the exception of my chats with Saints running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, who always insist on being interviewed together. To add a twist, I asked these teammates to answer for each other.

If you were stranded on a desert island, besides food and water, what one item would you bring?
The replies varied greatly. Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen said, “a football, of course,” while Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt answered, “a TV.”

At first Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry offered the most practical answer, replying, “a knife to hunt and protect myself”—only to be outdone by Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, who wanted “a boat.”

Both Titans punter Brett Kern and Raiders QB Derek Carr did not hesitate when answering, “the Bible.” Surprisingly, not a single player answered, “my phone.”

What is your favorite app on your phone?
As one might expect, most players answered as Broncos linebacker Von Miller did: “Probably Instagram. Snapchat. Social media apps.”

Landry, Hunt, and Kamara (on behalf of Ingram) also said Instagram was their favorite, while Thielen prefers Twitter.

Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey couldn’t live without his music app. Witten plays the game Ballz, while Carr uses GroupMe. Carr described it as “a whole bunch of people on a message and you can talk to each other. And it doesn’t alert your phone. So you can just go to it when you’re ready to talk.” Perhaps the most surprising answer came from Kern, who said, “the Weather Channel app. I love the Weather Channel!”

Other than winning the Super Bowl, what activity is at the top of your bucket list?
A number of players, such as Hunt, Ramsey, and Witten said, “travel the world.”

Kern said, “play Augusta,” home of the Masters golf tournament. At least he will know the weather when he gets there.

Carr really couldn’t think of anything, saying, “My whole goal when I was a little kid was to be a professional quarterback. A Pro Bowl quarterback. So I’m living my dream.”

What is the best prank you’ve ever played on a teammate?
Thielen described the time he helped prank one of his Vikings teammates: “When Laquon Treadwell was a rookie, we filled his car with fruit snacks!”

Kern played possibly the cruelest of the pranks on his Titans teammates, explaining, “I took everyone’s clothes and put them in the cold tub. And I put them underneath the bench. It was 43 degrees. So in order to get your clothes you had to dive in and go all the way under.”

Who is the coolest contact you have in your phone?
Miller, the MVP of Super Bowl 50, immediately answered, “Peyton Manning,” the quarterback of that championship-winning Broncos team.

Ingram said that the coolest contact in the phone of backfield partner Kamara is rapper Quavo, while Ramsey said his was Maverick Carter, business manager for LeBron James.

Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson hesitated at first, saying he didn’t want to name any names, until finally confessing. “Michael Jordan. Larry Fitzgerald. Derrick Brooks. A ton of cool people! Deion Sanders. The list goes on and on,” Peterson said with a laugh.

Both Carr and Thielen did not hesitate when answering “my wife,” with Thielen giving me a nudge and saying, “That ought to get me some brownie points!” Carr then paused for a second and added, “You know, I told my son I had Mickey Mouse in here, so hopefully that works out this weekend.” He gestured toward the nearby Magic Kingdom, demonstrating that for the players, their time at the Pro Bowl was as much about family and having fun as the game itself.

Photographs by (from top): Alex Menendez/Getty Images (Carr high-fiving); Michael Nichols (Landry, Miller)

 

 

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