Coaching Staff Heading To Pro Bowl

It’s a reward they’d rather not have, but the Packers coaches plan to use their upcoming trip to Hawaii to coach the NFC squad in the Pro Bowl as a nice little early offseason vacation. "We’re certainly privileged to be in this situation, although we prefer not to be," receivers coach Jimmy Robinson said. "We’d prefer the Giants’ staff be doing that. But it’s not a high-pressure situation for anybody. It’s relaxing and fun."

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It's a reward they'd rather not have, but the Green Bay Packers coaches plan to use their upcoming trip to Hawaii to coach the NFC squad in the Pro Bowl as a nice little early offseason vacation.

Several of the coaches plan to take family members to Hawaii with them, and perhaps go over a few days early or stay a couple of days late. Call it making the best of a coaching assignment, earned as a result of the NFC Championship defeat, no one covets but plans to enjoy once it arrives.

"We're certainly privileged to be in this situation, although we prefer not to be," receivers coach Jimmy Robinson said. "We'd prefer the Giants' staff be doing that. But it's not a high-pressure situation for anybody. It's relaxing and fun."

Robinson is one of three assistants, plus Head Coach Mike McCarthy, who have coached in the Pro Bowl before. Robinson was the receivers coach for Indianapolis in 1995, while Tom Clements coached the quarterbacks for Pittsburgh in 2001, and Kurt Schottenheimer was a special teams coach for Cleveland in 1987 and Kansas City in 1993, the same staff McCarthy was on for his first trip to Hawaii.

Robinson said the "coaching" for the Pro Bowl essentially amounts to introducing a very basic scheme and getting all the players familiar with it in a short period of time.

"You have a limited offense and you're really just trying to get guys on the same page - here's where we line up, here's what we call it," Robinson said. "It's more assignment and offensive-structure oriented than coaching technique or trying to get Terrell Owens to run routes the way we run them. He's going to run them the way he runs them.

"But Donald Driver will be my assistant. He may end up doing more coaching than I'm doing."

Driver is one of five Packers selected to the NFC squad. Quarterback Brett Favre (who will not attend), cornerback Al Harris and defensive end Aaron Kampman also were voted in, while offensive tackle Chad Clifton was named as an alternate to replace Seattle's Walter Jones.

To have all the top players assembled on the same practice field is a sight unto itself.

"You see those guys' names, all the way across the board, and you're interested to pick their brain a little bit, talk to them about what they do and how they train, stuff like that," defensive tackles coach Robert Nunn said. "That's something to look forward to."

The level of competitiveness during the week depends on the player, and it can be a challenge to make sure all the finer points are covered.

Schottenheimer was a special teams coach for his two previous trips, a role that can be one of the least popular jobs.

"A lot of these guys are not used to playing on special teams," Schottenheimer said. "You start talking to them about some of these things and they're thinking, 'Here I am, at the Pro Bowl, I've had a great year because that's why I'm here, and this guy wants me to go cover kickoffs and cover punts.'

"You have to get guys doing things a little differently than what they're accustomed to."

That said, it's interesting to see who volunteers for the work. Schottenheimer said at his first Pro Bowl, unbeknownst to him, Raiders running back Marcus Allen walked onto the field during the game to be the blocking wingback on the punt team when he'd never even practiced at that spot.

{sportsad300}"Marcus blocked the guy beautifully," Schottenheimer said. "Then goes down the field to cover, and as he strolls off the field I said, 'Marcus why'd you do that? You've had no practice at it,' and he just said, 'I've never done it before and just wanted to try it once.'"

Another standout memory for Schottenheimer his first time was of Kansas City's Albert Lewis, a superb special teams performer who was making every tackle for the AFC on punt and kickoff returns.

Schottenheimer, a rookie NFL coach in 1987 with the Browns, had taken his wife, two daughters and a babysitter over to Honolulu, making it a rather expensive trip. He remembers the winners' share being $10,000 per person, twice the losers' share of $5,000, and figuring he needed his AFC squad to win to cover all his expenses.

"It was hot as heck during the game, and it's the middle of the fourth quarter, it's close, and Albert's made every tackle for us," Schottenheimer recalled. "And he says, 'Go get someone else to cover a kick. I'm tired and it's hot out there.'

"I looked at Albert and said, 'Albert, I need you son, because I need that winners' share to break even.' He looked up and just started laughing and said, 'I'll get that winners' share for you,' and he went out there and made another tackle and we went on to win the game."

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