OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens punter Sam Koch was named to his first Pro Bowl last week, and the 10-year veteran made sure to thank the teammates who helped him achieve this long-awaited accomplishment.
For those who played at least eight games on the punt team, Koch gave out Apple watches to seven players and bought flight vouchers for two others.
Koch initially wanted to fly everyone to the Pro Bowl in Hawaii, but many declined the offer because they want to earn their trip there. So, Koch showed his generosity by handing out smartwatches.
"That's on par with Sam," long-snapper Morgan Cox said. "I'm really proud of all the work he's put in. And obviously I'm thankful of him thinking of us and showing that he appreciates us."
Koch ranks second in the NFL with a 43-yard net average, and the Ravens' punt team has allowed 5 yards per return, which also ranks second in the league. He was a first alternate to the Pro Bowl in both 2010 and 2014 before receiving his first invitation this year.
During the years, you've heard how quarterbacks and running backs reward their offensive linemen with gifts. This could be the first for a punter.
Koch believes the Pro Bowl was a team achievement, and he wanted to make that clear with gifts, which were a big hit in the locker room. Kyle Juszczyk wanted "to hug it out" with Koch. Anthony Levine was excited because he had been looking at Apple watches. And Brynden Trawick initially wanted a flight voucher, but he switched to the watch after seeing others receive one.
In addition to the gifts, he is flying out several people to the Pro Bowl in Hawaii, including Cox, special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg and kicking consultant Randy Brown, along with all of their wives. Kicker Justin Tucker had to pass on the trip because his wife is pregnant with their first child.
Each player on the winning team in the Pro Bowl will earn $55,000 and those on the losing team will receive $28,000. With the watches and flights, will Koch break even at the Pro Bowl?
"At this point, it really doesn't matter," Koch said. "I'm just happy to [be] bringing the guys out there that mean the most to me."