Honolulu (HawaiiNewsNow) - Joint base Pearl Harbor-Hickam set the stage for the NFL's best players, who put on a show for the Pro Bowl's debut of two non-conference affiliated all-pro teams, Thursday.
Team Sanders took the field first, followed by Jerry Rice's cast of all-stars. Both groups practiced for about 45-minutes each before breaking off to meet the crowd.
Players say the afternoon wasn't about them, instead turning the focus on those who came to watch the practice sessions. Namely the hundreds of U.S. soldiers, who along with members of their family, waited in the sun for hours on end hoping to be rewarded with an autograph or photo of their favorite player.
"It puts everything into perspective." said Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. "What these guys do on a day to day basis and as we out here doing what we do each and every Sunday. Those guys are doing their jobs as well."
New Orleans Saints quarterback says his affection for the military can be traced back to his first Pro Bowl experience at Hickam Air Force base. "I had a chance and went up in a KC-135 Stratotanker and it was one of my great memories. Coming here to be with our military personnel and the sacrifices they make on a daily basis for us, we owe them so much."
Both Team Sanders and Team Rice return to the practice field Friday, this time in Kapolei. Both teams are expected to begin the first of two 30-minute practices at 11am.