*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 third installment: *
As far as the football stuff, I've been signing all kinds of things for NFL functions, lots of autographs. All the players are encouraged to do that. All the practices, just preparing, have been pretty easy. Nothing real strenuous, just pretty much getting what our defenses and offenses are. It's a pretty relaxed atmosphere.
In the afternoons we've been going to the beach to relax. We saw some huge waves, and some guys surfing them. They were 20-some-foot waves and the most turquoise-blue water you could imagine.
On Thursday we did some whale-watching. We went out on this big boat, and you would get within 100 yards of the whales and hope they'd swim closer to you, and a few of them did. We got an up-close and personal look at some hump-back whales, and you don't get a chance to do that every day.
I really enjoyed our hike earlier this week. It was probably a three-quarter-mile hike to a waterfall in this Jurassic Park-looking valley. It was so tropical and lush. We walked up there and you could go jump in this pool while this waterfall is cascading down, and it was pretty neat. Linde didn't go in, but I did. It wasn't super-cold, so once you got in it was fine. It was all rain-water fed, so I couldn't see all the way to the bottom, but you could see a long ways down. It was pretty cool, out in the middle of nowhere swimming in a rain-fed, waterfall-fed pool.
The game is coming up quickly. I think it will be fun to have a chance to play with and against a lot of the guys that I've gotten a chance to know here this week. There's just a real sense of camaraderie. Everyone has that similar background, and it will be nice to put it in a competitive setting and go after it a little bit, but in the same sense it's pretty relaxed too.
I am looking forward to the game. I think it will be a fun opportunity, everything except the special teams. Everyone on the roster has to be on special teams because we don't have guys that normally do that. So I'm back there, and (former Packers assistant) John Bonamengo is the special teams coach, and he's saying, "Come on Kamp, you know how to do this," and I'm like, "Not since college!" So we're running down on kickoffs and punts and all that stuff. That's one part where I guess we'll just see how it goes. We'll be looking at play cards right before we run out, that's for sure.
The main thing is everyone wants to be out here with their families and enjoy the time, so it's been a nice opportunity to do that.
Kampman's diary will conclude next week with his reflections on playing in the Pro Bowl.