Side Lines for Sunday — February 12, 2006

HONOLULU — The NFL Pro Bowl is quite a spectacle on O’ahu. It’s truly the only taste of professional football that the state enjoys all year, and has been occurring every February since 1980.

In the late ’80s through the early ’90s, I was fortunate enough to make the trip to Honolulu for the first of many Pro Bowls with my family.

It was our family outing and was such a great experience that it will never leave my memory bank.

I remember the great games and seeing my favorite players on the field in person. But what made the experience beyond compare was the fact that it was something that my family enjoyed right by my side.

Now some 15 years later, the trip back to the Pro Bowl without my family is a little different, but it still brings back memories of that Sunday afternoon going through the souvenir tents and looking for San Francisco 49ers fans to gloat with.

There were many, but I noticed that my father’s favorite team, the Dallas Cowboys, had a few more cheerleaders than the Niners.

At one of the Pro Bowls, as my dad and I walked towards the stadium from the parking lot, we came across a huge contingent of Daryl “Moose” Johnston fanatics (Former Dallas Cowboys fullback).

They gave us shirts — even though I wasn’t a fan of the Cowboys — and my dad took them with pride (I think he still has them in his closet).

But the most comical souvenir might’ve been the “Moose Call” bugle, which could’ve attracted a real moose.

Towards the end of our Pro Bowl run, I was surprised that my mom and my sister, who weren’t big football fans, stayed throughout the contests.

In fact, when talking to my sister before heading off to O’ahu, I had to ask her if she actually went to all of the games.

Now if you know my sister, you know that she’s a shopping machine, so I actually thought she snuck away to rock the mall.

My dad used to joke around that every time we passed by the Ala Moana Shopping Center, the cash registers would go nuts because my sister was near her first love (at that time).

This time around, the cash registers are lonely, and so am I. But it’s not all that bad because I realize that covering the Pro Bowl was something that I dreamed of doing.

And to actually be here in Honolulu reporting on the game I grew up watching, it’s quite a special moment, even if my family isn’t here.

After all, those memories are engraved in my mind and all I’m doing this weekend is making more memorable experiences.

Oh and just in case you don’t know, check out the 2006 version of the Pro Bowl on ESPN, starting at 1 p.m., because I know I will, but in person!


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