*In his fifth season with the Green Bay Packers, defensive end Aaron Kampman finally shook the label of a try-hard overachiever and was recognized as an elite athlete and performer at his position, earning his first bid to the Pro Bowl.
Coming off a lucrative contract extension he signed prior to the 2006 season, Kampman went out and earned every penny, leading the NFC with 15 1/2 sacks, the third-highest single-season total in franchise history. He also recorded a career-high 113 tackles, a franchise record for a defensive lineman.
Kampman, who is joined by teammate Donald Driver in Hawaii, will play in the Pro Bowl for the first time on Saturday night, and he'll be chronicling his trip in this exclusive online diary for Packers.com.
Kickoff for the 2007 Pro Bowl will be 1 p.m. Hawaii time, 5 p.m. CT on CBS.
Here is the first installment: *
Getting ready to go was a little bit of craziness. Linde and I took off Friday morning to fly down to Miami to receive an award from the NFL Alumni Association. It's called the "pass rusher of the year" award, and I was selected by them. It's a neat honor, obviously, because it's from guys who have played the game and know the game.
We got back Saturday, and then Sunday we had a chance to pack, and then we took off again with the boys this time, to fly to Hawaii. We've brought my parents along with me and Linde's parents, and we've taken a babysitter along and some other friends.
It's a great way to let a lot of people know that they've been huge parts of our lives, and that's the way I look at it. Sometimes you can look at the destination instead of the journey, and there's definitely a lot of people that have been big parts of mine and Linde's life. We can't take everyone over to Hawaii, but we have different things we're planning on and making sure those people know how much we appreciate them. We've told some of them already, different coaches and mentors, people like that throughout the years.
It's obviously a great honor to be in the Pro Bowl. To be honest, I don't really know what to expect. I've read through the information they've given us and I talked to some of the guys who have been there. I talked to equipment manager Red Batty, William Henderson and Donald Driver, different guys that have done it before. They've given me some advice and things.
In the world of football, during the season, everything is pretty much scheduled and you have an itinerary, but we don't have one of those for this trip, so that's kind of nice. I understand that pretty much in the afternoon you get a chance to have some free time and just relax, so I'm really looking forward to that, spending some time with my wife and the rest of my family.
I've been to Hawaii before. I took Linde here after my rookie year, and we went to Maui. But we didn't go to Oahu, so we've never seen Pearl Harbor or any of those things. We don't have a whole lot planned that's etched in stone. I think I'll take everyone out for a nice dinner, and we'll get some nice photos taken of everyone that we've brought. Maybe we'll do a luau. We didn't do that in Maui last time. Maybe Linde and I will try our hand at snorkeling, see if we can't see some of those beautiful fish. I've also been told there's whales this time of year, so there might be an opportunity to get on a boat and see some whales. Our boys would like that.
Physically I've been preparing, spending time at the Hutson Center, making sure I'm staying in shape. I've prepared that way, but mostly we're looking to get a chance to relax together. I'll go to practice part of the day, and there's a game, but it will be a nice chance for my wife and I and our boys to get away and have a nice time, even if all we do is sit on the beach and build sand castles and hang out, that will be great.
Kampman's diary will continue throughout the week on Packers.com.