*As a 10-year veteran, fullback William Henderson has seen just about everything in the past decade with the Green Bay Packers. He's played in two Super Bowls, won one Super Bowl ring, and played a key role on eight playoff teams, six of them division champions.
Sunday though, Henderson will experience something new, playing in his first Pro Bowl after getting an overdue selection to the NFC's all-star team for his performance during the 2004 season.
Henderson became the first fullback in NFL history to serve as the lead blocker for a 1,000-yard rusher in seven straight seasons this year, as Ahman Green ran for 1,163. The bruiser also caught 34 passes out of the backfield for 239 yards and three touchdowns, and continued his stellar special teams play with 12 tackles on kick coverage.
Henderson will be joined in Hawaii by three Green Bay teammates - Green, Marco Rivera, and Javon Walker. This season marked the first time a pair of Packers running backs were selected to the NFL's annual All-Star Game since 1962 when Tom Moore and Jim Taylor made were chosen.
The fullback has been to Hawaii before, but never for the Pro Bowl. He will be providing exclusive reports to Packers.com in an online diary that will chronicle his week in the tropical paradise.
The Pro Bowl will be held at Honolulu's Aloha Stadium Sunday, February 13.*
Pro Bowl Diary, Part III - February 11, 2005
Practice has gone well throughout the week. It's been a little more work than I was led to believe it was going to be by the guys who have been here before. Of course, they're coming in with other players at their positions and allow them to get a break in practice, but I'm the only fullback out here.
I'm doing a little bit more work than I thought I would be doing with the amount of reps I'm getting, but that's not a problem. Everybody knows that I'm a workhorse and I don't mind getting my hands dirty, so it's been fun.
Making adjustments to the offense hasn't been too difficult. Fortunately in working with the Atlanta Falcons staff, they run pretty much the same offense that we run in Green Bay, the verbiage is different, but it's really the same, West Coast-type offense where the passing game and the pass protections are very similar to what we do in Green Bay.
The practices haven't been too difficult. They've been pretty quick - about an hour and 20 minutes for the most part, and today's practice was only about 45 minutes. It was kind of like an upscale walkthrough. You break a sweat more so because it's warm than because of the strenuous activity.
The great thing about being the only fullback out here is that I'm looking forward to getting a lot of reps in the game on Sunday. I'm not complaining about the practices because the benefits I'll be able to have during the game.
I'm also going to be involved in all the special teams aspect of the game, which is great for me because that's one of the areas of the game that I excel at. Also, I think that's good for our team because we have plenty of guys who play special teams during the season.
Most of these guys on the NFC team didn't come into the league straight into starting roles - a lot of them have experience on special teams and I think that will help us in the game.
These guys are such hard workers and I think this NFC team will be able to put it together on Sunday and come out with a win.
One of the great things about being out here and practicing with these guys from other teams is that some of the guys that we play against the most have given me the most love and encouragement this week.
Daunte Culpepper and Donovan McNabb have been welcoming me with open arms into the offense. In practice, they're throwing me the ball as much as they can - they're always checking to me on read routes or checking down to me on passes.
It's been a lot of fun. I'm amazed to see how much respect they have for me. And I have the same for them because I know what kind of competitors they are. It's going to be a little weird because I've played behind Brett my whole career, but at the same time it's going to be great because I'm going to see what it's like working with some of the other great quarterbacks in the game.
Friday was the big picture day for the NFC players. This was really the one day that I've been looking forward to almost as much as the practices and the game.
It's a tradition - you take a picture in your Pro Bowl uniform with a lovely, young Hawaiian woman (or two) with your group. They have the little coconut outfits on and the grass skirts, and it's a fun day.
Part of the real fun is that your family gets to be involved in the whole thing. My son and my wife, my brother, my sister, my dad, and my high school coach - everybody got to come down and not only spend time with me here, but also got to meet the other players, take pictures with the other players, and just be involved in the atmosphere of the entire event - not just standing in the stands.
It was really a wonderful day. Being around all the guys in our uniforms, taking the pictures, being proud of the moment - the fact that we're all here representing our teams, representing our families, representing the game that we all love so much was great.
Before I came out here, I wasn't really expecting it, but it turns out that the Pro Bowl has become even more of a family reunion for me. One of my cousins, Rudi Johnson, is a running back for the Cincinnati Bengals and he was named to the AFC team last weekend and we're getting to share our first Pro Bowl experience together.
Today we were eating lunch with the winner of an NFL Fantasy Football contest and some of the other players, and everyone was kind of surprised seeing Rudi and I sitting back and talking about old times at our high school in our hometown.
His freshman year at Thomas Dale High School in Chester, Virginia was my first year in the NFL. I went back that year to have my high school jersey retired, and that was his first game as a varsity football player. It was great to see how far we've come that we're now both at the Pro Bowl together - and our high school coach was here to share it with us.