*This year, in his seventh NFL season, guard Marco Rivera became the first Packers offensive lineman to be voted to the Pro Bowl since Larry McCarren in 1983.
The all-star selection was a much-deserved reward for Rivera, who started all 17 games -- including post-season play -- despite tearing the medial collateral ligaments in both knees.
In addition to protecting Brett Favre, Rivera and his fellow offensive linemen opened holes for the Packers' best rushing season in 17 years.
Sunday, February 2, Rivera will join Packers wide receiver Donald Driver, tight end Bubba Franks, safety Darren Sharper and the rest of the all-stars at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii, for the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl (Brett Favre and Ahman Green both were voted into the all-star game, but will not participate because of injuries).
Making his first trip to Hawaii, Rivera offered to share his Pro Bowl experience in an online diary exclusive to Packers.com.*
Pro Bowl Diary, Part I - January 26, 2003
My wife, Michelle, and I have two sons. Dante will be 2 in February. Roman will turn 1 two weeks later.
But today we're leaving them in Green Bay with their babysitter and her mother. Today we're headed to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl!
I've never been to Hawaii before and I'm getting pretty excited.
I imagine it to have nice white-sand beaches and clear, blue water. I'm picturing palm trees and coconuts, macadamia nuts and pineapples. And hula girls.
Playing in the Pro Bowl is an honor, but the whole trip is a reward.
Bubba and Ahman were at the Pro Bowl last year and I talked to them about what to expect. They said that practices are really light, maybe 30 or 40 minutes without too much contact.
The whole thing is really low-key. It's all about having a good time. It's for the players.
After the season ended, I took a week off, but since then I've been coming in every day and pretty much doing the same treatment and conditioning that I was doing all season.
That usually includes some time in the steam room, ice, massage and some lifting and running to keep the strength level up.
Taking the week off helped. The bumps and bruises have had time to heal and my legs are back under me. My knee is still a little sore, but I'll get that corrected when I get back to Green Bay, and other than that I feel pretty good.
Earlier this week, Donald Driver was selected to replace Randy Moss in the Pro Bowl. I think he deserves it. He had a heck of a season for us and that's a great compliment to all his hard work. I'm glad he's going to be there.
Brett and Ahman have injuries, so they're going to stay home.
It's going to be different without Brett behind me. He's the only quarterback I've protected in the pros, so not having him there is going to feel a little strange.
I'm looking forward to the game, but I'm also looking forward to just spending some time with my wife in Hawaii.
I'm not sure what we're going to do exactly. I'm going to take it hour by hour.
I know I want to do some of the tourist stuff. I'd like to go to Pearl Harbor and see the memorial, and I also heard that there's a good helicopter excursion that you can go on, so I'd like to try and do that as well.
But I also want to relax on the beach and enjoy the local food.
We have our first Pro Bowl meeting Monday night, so I'll check in Tuesday and tell you how my trip is going.