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Pro Bowl players practice amid Pearl Harbor troops

Pro Bowl players practice amid Pearl Harbor troops

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (AP) Thousands of military service members and their families crowded a small field at Pearl Harbor to catch a glimpse of their favorite NFL stars as they practiced in the rain in preparation for Sunday's Pro Bowl.

Downpours didn't stop kids and adults Thursday from shouting toward their favorite stars like Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson as they did light drills, then signed autographs.

New Orleans punter Thomas Morstead toyed with fans as he punted balls from one sideline toward fans behind a barrier on the other side of the field - each ball stopping well short of the crowd.

The practice at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam was held at a field named for famed aviator Amelia Earhart, near three large military transport planes.

The practice served as a reminder of why the Pro Bowl is important to keep around, Fitzgerald said.

``It's an honor to be out here and to be able to meet all the servicemen and women - it makes it special,'' Fitzgerald said. ``It's important that we come out and play well this year. We want to continue to have the Pro Bowl game and obviously want to keep it here.''

Earlier Thursday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reiterated at a preview event for the 2014 Super Bowl that the Pro Bowl is in danger of going away.

``This is something we've got to deal with,'' Goodell said. ``And if we can't improve on the quality of the game, it's something we're not going to do in the future.''

Service members on Thursday were thinking less about the future and more about snagging autographs and special moments with their favorite stars in the present.

Air Force Maj. Alan Partridge, a 33-year-old Seattle Seahawks fan, said the practice is special for military families, especially kids. He said he hopes the tradition continues.

``I think it's still worth it to have (the game) even if they don't play at 100 percent,'' said Partridge, part of a crew that flies Boeing C-17 Globemaster III transport planes.

The NFC, which practiced first, got in more practice time than the AFC squad because of the rain, which intensified to a downpour by midday.

Buffalo running back CJ Spiller said the moment was a special part of a week spent celebrating being among the NFL's best.

``Those guys do a lot for our country and they sacrifice private life to try to help make sure that we have a better country,'' Spiller said. ``It means a whole lot to come back here and be with these guys.''

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Oskar Garcia can be reached on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/oskargarcia

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Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Bradley Beal on signing extension with Wizards last year: 'I'm the franchise here'

Bradley Beal on signing extension with Wizards last year: 'I'm the franchise here'

Just before the 2019-2020 NBA season began, Wizards guard Bradley Beal opted to extend his career in Washington with a two-year, $72 million maximum contract that keeps him in the nation’s capital through at least the end of 2022 -- with a player option for the following year.

Before the extension, other teams across the league were reportedly interested in acquiring the 26-year-old. But Beal never pushed for a trade, and opted to stay with the team that drafted him out of Florida in 2012.

In an appearance on Posted Up with Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Beal explained his decision was deeper than money. Renewing his commitment to Washington, which he called his “second home,” was about the initial connection, his legacy and the chance for success with John Wall in the future.

“I respect the fact that they drafted me, that’s first and foremost,” Beal told Haynes. “Just being in one spot for your whole career, having your jersey in the rafter one day, being that important to an organization, those were all things that drew me.”

 

Last summer, Beal said he spoke with current and former NBA stars about his pending decision. He consulted Portland Trailblazers’ star guard Damian Lillard, who decided to stay with his original team with a supermax contract extension in June, and Ray Allen, who was loyal to the Milwaukee Bucks early in his career.

After those conversations, it was clear to him that staying in Washington was better than chasing rings through requesting a trade.

“Honestly, I thought that was kind of the easy way out,” Beal said. “It’ll feel more meaningful and powerful knowing that I grinded it out doing it in D.C. It’s pretty much my team, I’m the franchise here, so it was kind of destined for me to kind of mold it from here.”

Beal’s appearance on Haynes’ podcast comes one week after he expressed frustration following the Wizards’ 116-109 loss to the Chicago Bulls -- another defeat during a difficult season.

The guard addressed those comments that underscored his mounting frustration.

“I was mad that we lost. We lost a very winnable game. And granted, I’m a big part of it, the team’s a big part of it,” Beal said. “One thing I want everybody to understand is I’m not a guy that just shifts blame on his teammates.

“I want to win. And whatever that looks like, whatever it takes, let’s go out there and get it done.”

Washington’s losing season comes with Wall relegated to the role of a spectator, as the Wizards’ franchise point guard continues to recover from a ruptured achilles he suffered last February.

Without Wall on the floor this season, Beal has averaged 27.5 points and 6.3 assists in 36 games. But Beal knows his role will change whenever Wall returns.

“When he comes back, obviously, you know, the dynamic of our team chances. I won’t have the ball all the time,” Beal said. “He’s going to have the ball, he’s going to be able to make plays and, you know, create plays for us as he always does.”

As Beal looks forward to reuniting with his backcourt running mate, he also has an eye on how the duo can advance further than it did in the past.

“What can we do differently than we did in the past?” Beal pondered. “How can we grow from where we were a few years ago -- game seven against the Celtics -- to how can we take that next step?”

In discussing Beal’s legacy, Haynes asked the Wizards guard about maintaining loyalty versus winning a ring. Beal didn’t shy away from laying out his goals to win multiple rings, but he’s also cognizant that there’s no guarantee his legacy will include that.

“There’s plenty of guys who had great careers and didn’t get one. Granted, everybody wants one. I want one; I want multiple,” he said. “At the same time, you can’t live your life or I guess you can’t basically judge your career off of that because there’s no guarantee you’ll get one.”

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Lamar Jackson shows off accuracy by hitting a crossbar from 50 yards away

Lamar Jackson shows off accuracy by hitting a crossbar from 50 yards away

Lamar Jackson isn't letting the end of the Ravens' season impact his ability to wow us on the football field. 

Ahead of the Pro Bowl Skills Challenge set for Thursday night, Jackson showed off incredible arm talent by hitting the crossbar from 50 yards away. 

Not bad for a running back. 

This season didn't go as planned for the Raves. They won 12 straight games to finish the regular season 14-2 and Jackson had an MVP season. Everything pointed to at least a trip to the AFC title game until the Titans came into Baltimore and pulled off a shocking upset in the Divisional Round. 

Jackson later explained how he didn't leave his room after the loss, and who can blame him? He's now 0-2 in the playoffs and their latest failure came against a team that had to switch quarterbacks midseason. 

The future is still bright in Baltimore, and while the sting of the playoffs may still be there for Ravens fans, they can still watch their quarterback dazzle in the Skills Challenge and the actual Pro Bowl game on Sunday. 

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