Pro Bowl worth the wait for Wahle
First-time Panthers Pro Bowler Mike Wahle is an interesting cat.
First, there is the legend that the 6-6, 304-pound offensive guard began his collegiate career as a wide receiver.
"That's kind of a misnomer," Wahle said after yesterday's NFC practice at Aloha Stadium.
Don't worry, the truth is just as good. His position had been eliminated, as there were no tight ends at the Naval Academy then (former Hawaii assistant Paul Johnson had just brought his spread-option as the new offensive coordinator). Wahle had just been to boot camp, heading into his first year as a plebe.
Boot camp, before football camp. "They wouldn't feed me anything but one peanut butter and jelly sandwich a day," Wahle said, "so I weighed 235, lost about 30 pounds. And they took one look at me ..."
He was pointed toward the line for receiver drills.
He'd been a quarterback in high school, then recruited as a tight end.
Then, at Navy, he ate a few more sandwiches.
"The next year I got to my locker for spring ball and there was knee braces in there," Wahle said. "It was all downhill from there."
How did all those positions prepare him for a career on the O-line?
"Not very well," Wahle said.
But he did take to his new role, spending seven years with the Packers before breaking into the Pro Bowl club with Carolina this year. In fact, Wahle said he is the first and only Navy football player to leave the program early in order to turn pro.
Hook 'em: Pittsburgh Steelers Casey Hampton and Troy Polamalu were quite interested in a championship game a month before last week's Super Bowl.
Hampton's Texas Longhorns beat Polamalu's USC Trojans in the Rose Bowl for the national championship.
"Oh yeah, me and T.P. had a friendly bet," Hampton said. "We bet $1, and he had to pay with a check. I'm framing it and showing it around."
Hey, Norm: Titans quarterback Steve McNair, an injury replacement for Denver's Jake Plummer, attended his first AFC practice yesterday.
He was asked about new offensive coordinator Norm Chow's impact.
"He helped draw some stuff out of some young guys we didn't know had it in them," McNair said. "He's a very intelligent guy. Bringing him into our organization was good. Unfortunately we had a bad year (4-12). But by the same token we were young, and we just have to continue to work hard."
Bring the Ohana: Sunday's game is sold out, but the public is invited to Aloha Stadium tomorrow to the AFC and NFC practices and performances by game-day entertainers The Backstreet Boys and JoJo at the Pro Bowl's inaugural Ohana Day.
The event runs from 9 a.m. to noon and also features the U.S. Navy Seals "Leap Frogs" and the national finals of the EA Sports Madden 2005 Challenge.
The event is free.
They deliver: Offensive tackle Wayne Hunter of the Seahawks, a Radford and Hawaii alumnus, will participate in the book and sports equipment delivery at the Boys & Girls Club on Waiola Street again this year.
The NFL facilitated the drive by seven Oahu schools to donate the books and equipment for needy children.
Also, the NFL announced yesterday that it donated a total of $100,000 to various Hawaii non-profit organizations.
Star-Bulletin reporters Kalani Simpson and Dave Reardon
contributed to this report.