*Build-up to the 2005 Pro Bowl kicked off Friday with Green Bay Packers fullback William Henderson taking part in a press conference in Honolulu.
Henderson, who was representing the players set to take part in the All-Star Game, was joined at the press conference by Atlanta Falcons head coach Jim Mora, who will also serve as the coach for the NFC squad in next Sunday's game.
Here are some of the highlights from the Q&A session:*
William Henderson: "It is a pleasure to be here and actually I am a very humble guy, so I thank you all for welcoming me and my teammates to Hawaii. I am looking forward to going out and playing football and keeping it as simple as possible. I am a football player. I love the game and I love every aspect of it. I believe in going out and being part of a team.
"As Coach Mora sends us out next Sunday, we will go out and play football at its finest. We hope to represent the NFL and our family in a positive way. I make no big claims about it. I am a fullback. I run into brick walls and I do it wholeheartedly. I accept my role. However, if Coach Mora wants to give me a ball a couple of times, I don't mind carrying it from time to time (laughing).
"I believe in trying to help my team win, so I will be a blocking back or play special teams. When I go out there, I try and help the team be the best we can possible be. It is my tenth year and I can't think of a better time to be considered a rookie. This is my rookie season at the Pro Bowl and I am overjoyed. I have had some of the best people to precede me with Darryl Johnston, Larry Centers, Mike Alstott, and Fred Beasley. I have followed a great bunch of guys over here and I am just happy to come over and represent a small town called Chesterfield, VA, just south of Richmond and to play football like I learned it. I look forward to playing next Sunday."
(On how he found out about Pro Bowl nomination)
WH: "I didn't get a chance to hear my name fully called. My teammates were more excited I think that I was about our nomination. We just finished our practice and Coach Sherman came up and gathered all of the guys together. He called out all of the guys who have made it but he left me off the first time he ran through the list. He said I had made it as an alternate, which I had been for the last four or five years. I was excited that I got that much respect. Then all of a sudden he came back and said "Ooops" I made a mistake and he said the first four letters of my name and Ahman Green and Donald Driver tackled me to the ground to celebrate. It's been a dream come true since that."
(Are you going to be more than a player and a tourist at the game?)
WH: "I will definitely be a tourist. I have been to the islands, mostly in Maui. I always promised I wouldn't come to this island unless I was offered to come by the league with a Pro Bowl selection. It's been a long time, 10 years, battling. Now, I am going to be a tourist and a rookie. Trying to learn from veteran guys like Marco Rivera who has made several trips here and learn what I should and should not do. Learn not to give my room number out so people won't charge room service to my bill (laughing).
"I will keep my ears open and listen to every possible thing and try to get as many hints as to what I should do and not do. I am going to go to the North Shore and admire the waves and check out the mountain, volcanoes and shopping. This is going to be a place of paradise for me. I have invited several of my friends and family this week. A friend of mind is going to get married in elementary school. I am just looking forward to being here and being a part of such a prestigious event."
(How deserving is William to be in his first Pro Bowl and what are his chances of running the ball in the Pro Bowl?)
Jim Mora: "He will run the ball on the first play... (Laughter). I just love to hear William talk about team, teammates and hard work. It is what you look for on leaders of your football team and he is truly deserving. I am just honored to have the chance to coach him. There are a lot of great, great players. When you hear a guy who stands up and is so gracious to be nominated, it kind of sinks in on why guys like him are playing in the Pro Bowl. It isn't just talent, there is a big thing called character and he has got it."