Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall was named to his fourth Pro Bowl yesterday. He, along with teammates Charles Tillman, Julius Peppers, Tim Jennings and Henry Melton, will start for the NFC in Hawaii the week before Super Bowl XLVII.
Yet for Marshall, who has yet to make the playoffs through six NFL seasons, the Pro Bowl isn't the end goal.
"It's always an honor to be voted in by your peers and coaches around the league," Marshall said today. "Fortunately, it's my fourth time. But unfortunately, it's been my playoffs. The Pro Bowl is great. It's an honor. It's a ball, you have a blast out there, but I'm ready to get to the playoffs and that's more important."
For the Bears to make the postseason, they'll have to beat the Lions in Detroit on Sunday and the Packers must beat the Vikings in Minnesota. If that scenario doesn't play out this weekend, Chicago will fall out of the playoffs for the second season in a row - after starting 7-3 both years.
WR Brandon Marshall
Marshall said a trip to the postseason would mean far more than a trip to Hawaii.
"It would mean the world to me to get to the postseason," he said. "It may be like a Super Bowl berth-type reaction for me. Hopefully, Sunday is a good day for us. We'll see. We've got to control what we can control and that's beat Detroit."
Unlike Lovie Smith, who said last week that he's a Packers fan, Marshall won't be rooting for Chicago's division rivals up north.
"I'm not cheering for anybody but the Bears," said Marshall. "That's how it is. We put ourselves in this position, and right now, it could be a good position. You never know how things will work out. All we can do is beat Detroit and sit back and have a cup of coffee and see what happens."
Melton was more willing to call himself a Packers fan come Sunday.
"We're going to do our thing versus Detroit. I don't want to say anything because I don't like Detroit," Melton said. "I like Green Bay this week but I really don't like Detroit."
For players like Jennings and Melton, who are both making their first trips to Hawaii, the All Star designation means a bit more. Still, the Pro Bowl nod will ring hollow if the Bears are sent packing early.
"The season hasn't gone as well as I expected or wanted it to, but it's not over yet," said Jennings. "For the team goals, we've still got goals ahead of us."
The irony is, if those goals are met and Chicago winds up making a deep playoff run to the Super Bowl, then the five Bears Pro Bowlers won't be present in Hawaii. Although that would be just fine with them.
"Hopefully," said Marshall, "those tickets go unused."
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.