Players on teams that are in smaller markets often don’t get the national recognition they deserve. This rings especially true for a certain linebacker duo in Tampa Bay.
In six seasons Lavonte David has only been to the Pro Bowl once. David was snubbed of the honor again this year, but his partner Kwon Alexander was named to the NFC squad as a replacement for Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner.
Alexander, who is already familiar with being overlooked on the national stage, didn’t even believe it when he got the call.
“I didn’t really believe them,” Alexander said. “I thought someone was playing with me at first because I didn’t think I was going. I didn’t believe the call until my coach, Coach Duffner called me. Then I was like, this might be real. I got real excited and jumping up and down. I was hype. I was just hype and I’m blessed.”
Although Alexander wasn’t joined by David, he was still in good company with Gerald McCoy making his sixth consecutive trip to the Pro Bowl. With so many consecutive appearances and now being voted a captain of the NFC team, the veteran three-technique is obviously very acquainted with the ins and outs of Pro Bowl week. McCoy shared some of the advice he had for the young linebacker.
“Just have fun, man,” McCoy said. “Just have fun. Enjoy it. Don’t take it too serious. It’s a serious moment in the fact that it’s a blessing to be here and you’re with the best of the best. You can learn from the guys around here and get something out of it, but just have fun. It’s an honor and it’s partially a vacation. Enjoy the vacation part of it, then handle business when it’s time to handle business, but just enjoy the moment. Live in it.”
Alexander seems to have taken the advice to heart. Alexander has been seen soaking up the experience all week with a grin that he is unable to wipe off throughout practice. Hair freshly dyed Buccaneer red, Versace frames on during practice, and his phone in his shorts pocket to take videos with old LSU teammates, it is fair to say the “LitTiRilla” is having a blast.
But, with all the fun, Alexander recognizes there is an opportunity to better himself as a player and he has not only taken advantage of that for himself, but for his teammates back in Tampa as well.
“I just want to just go out here and have fun and pick people’s brains as much as I can,” Alexander said. “It’s always good to elevate your game into something or somebody you want to be. I’m just out here picking people’s brains. I’m talking to safeties and corners to see what they see. Just all kinds of stuff so I can go back and help my teammates and put it in their head what kind of dogs they need to be and what knowledge they need to have on the field.”
Through all the laughs and reuniting with college teammates, it comes as no surprise that Alexander also listened to the second half of McCoy’s advice – handle business. Anyone who has watched Alexander knows that he doesn’t have an off switch and he says the Pro Bowl will be no different. While others may not take the game as seriously, Kwon has something to prove.
“You know how I play,” Alexander said still buzzing from his first Pro Bowl practice. “You know I don’t play around. I’m trying to win this MVP and give my momma the car. I’m out here just trying to show that I’m supposed to be here. I’ve been passed up for a couple years so I’m just trying to show that I’m supposed to be here.”
There is no doubt Alexander will be at full speed come game time. Here’s to hoping Alexander’s mom has a new car in the driveway Sunday night.