Pro Bowl brings out the kid in Meriweather

MIAMI -- One of my favorite parts of covering an all-star game is the scene in the locker room afterward.

You get a good sense for what a player is about by how he reacts at such a time. Some are aloof and act like superstars, too cool to be impressed with the occasion. Others run around like kids, collecting autographs or other mementos from their teammates.

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard was radiant. He couldn't stop smiling and looked utterly thrilled to have his son, Justin, with him. The toddler scampered around the room, slaloming through the legs of Pro Bowlers and reporters.

Garrard, an eight-year veteran, seemed to be soaking it in. As a deep alternate, he needed a lot of other quarterbacks to pull out for him to make it to the Pro Bowl. There's a healthy chance he might not make another one.

New England Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather also played in his first Pro Bowl, but he should be back many times before he's through.

Meriweather was among the players going from stall to stall, requesting autographs on a helmet.

"Anytime you get a chance to play with some of the best in the game, you have to embrace it," Meriweather said. "It's a dream come true for me. Ever since I was little, I've been watching this game, hoping that one day I would get a chance to play with some of these guys and actually play in [the Pro Bowl].

"Now that I've got my chance, I'm just trying to embrace it and stay humble."