Rossum knows what is
in store for Owens

Atlanta's Allen Rossum can certainly relate to the challenge facing former University of Hawaii standout Chad Owens in his quest to make an NFL roster.

Rossum, the NFC's kick-return specialist, is the smallest player in the Pro Bowl at 5-foot-8 and had a bit of advice for the 5-9 Owens, who hopes his return ability can help him make the jump to the pros.

"Just continue to work at his craft and the things that he does well," Rossum said. "Because size doesn't matter, it's the heart that you have and if you can make plays. That's it."

Rossum's big-play ability landed him his first Pro Bowl berth in his seventh season in the league.

Rossum finished second in the NFC in punt returns by averaging 12.4 yards per return in the regular season. But he turned it up in the playoffs, averaging 34.4 yards in five punt returns. His 68-yard TD return against St. Louis helped send the Falcons to the NFC championship game.

"No matter what level I was on, I had to prove that I could play," Rossum said. "No matter what size you are, especially at this level, you have to prove that you can play and maintain your performance, if not they'll get somebody else who can. No matter what size you are, what school, or what type of talent you are, you always have to prove your worth."

Rossum last played in Aloha Stadium as a cornerback for Notre Dame in 1997. He returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown on the first play of scrimmage against UH and the Irish hung on for a 23-22 win.

Got poi?: Jets' center Kevin Mawae is proof that you can't find everything in New York City.

Can you get Hawaiian food in Gotham?

"Absolutely not," said Mawae, who is nearly half Hawaiian, and has tried to find his favorites like kalua pig in New York. "There are no Hawaiian restaurants. Roy's is the closest thing, but that's not Hawaiian food."

Neither are manapua or malasadas, but those are also among Mawae's favorites.

"I eat those every day when I'm here," Mawae said.

Mawae was born and raised in Louisiana, but the LSU alumnus' father is from Kauai, and the sixth-year Pro Bowler makes sure his son, Kirkland, and daughter, Abigail, are aware of their Polynesian heritage.

Last Fourth of July was a cultural high-point for Mawae. At previous family luaus, his father always supervised the imu, or underground oven for roasting the pig.

"This one was special for me because I participated in the preparation of the food much more than before," Mawae said.

Festival begins: Youth clinics, games, autographs, entertainment and souvenirs are among the highlights at the Pro Bowl Football Festival.

The event is at Kapiolani Park from noon to 6 p.m. today and tomorrow.

Prayer breakfast: Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander will speak at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Pro Bowl prayer breakfast, tomorrow from 7 to 9 a.m. at Richardson Field.

Admission is $5 and includes continental breakfast, entertainment and door prizes.

Helping hand: NFL players and cheerleaders were scheduled to assist Oahu schoolchildren in loading donated books today.

The books will be distributed to rural areas of the island.

Crime watch: The NFL is assisting Honolulu Police this year to thwart the sale of fake Pro Bowl merchandise.

Three people were arrested last year in connection with bogus memorabilia.

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