Over the years, it seems like something of a standard conversation with an athlete — especially a rookie — at the Pro Bowl has emerged. You ask about the weather, his teammates, the ambience, what he thinks of other NFL players, and if he’s managed to avoid giving out his room number to people who want to charge elaborate meals and drinks to him.
(In the old days — like last year, for example — you’d also ask Hawai’i-specific questions: have you worn a grass skirt? Have you eaten traditional Hawaiian foods like lau lau or poi? Are you hanging out with Colt Brennan? But this year’s Pro Bowl is in Miami, so most of those questions are out.)
Well, Redskins rookie linebacker/defensive end Brian Orakpo called in from Miami and I saw no reason to mess with tradition. I’m hoping to catch up with him a few times as he preps for this weekend’s game; this conversation took place late yesterday, after the first day of Pro Bowl practice.
“First day of practice was good,” Orakpo said. “You know, we started early this morning, ’bout 9:30, with players getting’ acclimated with each other and getting used to the new scheme for the Pro Bowl, so to speak. They just keep it real simple. But it’s been good so far, I’m having a good time.
“Practice was real light for the first day, just helmets, going out there for little walkthrough practice sessions, everybody just sitting in their gaps and getting used to playing with each other.”
On meeting other NFL players:
“We were all introducing ourselves to each other. During the season I didn’t ever get a chance to formally meet DeMarcus Ware [of the Dallas Cowboys]. I know we all heard of each other from, you know, being pass rushers, but now that we’re playing alongside each other, we’ve got a kind of little chemistry going as far as respecting each other and being good friends.”
On seeing teammate London Fletcher at the Pro Bowl:
“At the hotel at the meeting we had, when they split us up for AFC and NFC, I saw London there. We were signing balls and stuff, and you know how London is: he was happy, smilin’ like he always is.”
On if Fletcher has made Orakpo buy him a dinner as he threatened:
“He hasn’t made me buy him a meal yet. He was talkin’ some nonsense like that earlier, but we’ll see. We’ll see how it goes. But he ain’t really been bothering me so far.”
On if the Pro Bowl rookies are being hazed:
“Like I said, it’s been real laid back. Really from my knowledge they don’t do a lot of hazing or anything, but they have been tryin’ to ask rookies what rooms they stay in. I try to avoid that conversation. But besides that, it’s been real chill. Everybody’s just relaxing, having a good time. I don’t really think there’s gonna be any hazing going on, but we’ll see. I never know; it’s a long week.”
On not giving out his room number:
“I’ve managed to protect my room number so far. I’m tryin’ to switch it up every five hours or so, man, ’cause Donovan’s over here goin’ crazy trying to get people’s room numbers. I’m tryin’ to keep switching it up so he can’t get a jump on me. I guess he’s the wily old vet around here, trying to mess with the younger guys or the first-time Pro Bowlers. That’s just how he is. He’s crazy. Everybody else has just been real chill, but Donovan’s a character, man. He’s crazy.”
On the Pro Bowl experience so far:
“It’s fun, man. The beach is right outside of your door. Great weather — it beats the snow. I mean, what more can you ask for?”
Tags: Brian Orakpo, BrianOrakpo, Pro Bowl, ProBowl
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