*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 and the NFC all-stars -- including Packers wide receiver Donald Driver, tight end Bubba Franks and safety Darren Sharper -- fell to the AFC all-stars 45-20 at Aloha Stadium.
Back in Green Bay with knee surgery upcoming, Rivera wrapped up his Pro Bowl online diary, made available exclusively at Packers.com.*
Pro Bowl Diary, Part IV - February 5, 2003
So now I've played in a Pro Bowl.
It was an exciting game. It's too bad that we couldn't pull it out and get a win for the NFC, but even with the loss the overall experience of being there was excellent.
It's great to say that I played in an all-star game like that.
I mean you line up and you're looking at guys like Richard Seymour (New England) and Gary Walker (Houston) and Jason Taylor (Miami) and you're thinking, how are we going to be able to move the ball on these guys?
But then you look at your defense and you've got Brian Urlacher (Chicago) and Derrick Brooks (Tampa Bay) and you realize that it's pretty tough for the other guys, too!
You know, everyone thinks that the play at the Pro Bowl is soft, but it's not. It gets competitive out there. You could see that by some of those pushing and shoving matches that happened during the game.
All-star game or not, guys still want to win. We're all competitors and we got after it pretty good out there Sunday.
And then, after an amazing week in Hawaii, it was time to go home.
The flight back wasn't too bad. And it's always great to get home and see the kids.
A trip like that is something every player should get the chance to do at least once in his career. It's a tremendous honor to be part of something like that.
Now that I'm home in Green Bay and I look back at the experience, I remember being on the deck of the USS Missouri and going to the Pearl Harbor memorial. I remember the big waves at the North Shore and other parts of the island.
And I remember being in the locker room with all those guys, laughing and having a good time. And I remember the game.
My wife and I had a great time. It was a heck of an experience.
Now that it's behind me, it's time to get healthy.
I'm getting my knee scoped today. That's going to force me to rest for a couple days, but then it will be time to start concentrating on next season.
We need to get Cliffy and Tauscher back and get that O-line healthy again, and hopefully we can make a run at the Super Bowl.
To all the fans that cheered me on and kept in touch with my diary, thanks for your support! Hopefully we can do this again next year.
I could handle that.