KAPOLEI, Hawaii -- Few events can match the Pro Bowl for unlikely alliances and awkward timing.
Less than two weeks after meeting in a contentious AFC playoff game, Patriots and Jets players now line up next to each other on the practice field in preparation for a finale that will come one week earlier than they had hoped.
While there may have been hits and barbs traded during the season, the rivalries tend to cool upon arriving in the islands -- at least for a while.
“I think there’s just a lot of mutual respect for all the other coaches, players,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said after the AFC’s practice Thursday at Kapolei High School. “Even though we compete against them every week, this is a time where really it’s fun to be able coach them and have them on your side and not have to game plan against them but to actually be able to work with them and have them help you win.”
The staffs of the highest-seeded teams to lose in the divisional round of the playoffs are assigned to the Pro Bowl, which sent Belichick and the Patriots coaching staff to Honolulu for Sunday’s game at Aloha Stadium.
“We’d rather be playing in a different game than this,” said Belichick, who is serving as a Pro Bowl head coach for the second time. “But it’s a great game and it’s great to be a part of it.”
Belichick said the staff will review what worked and what didn’t in the just-completed season that included an AFC East title but fell short of the trip to Dallas for the Super Bowl with the 28-21 playoff loss to the Jets on Jan. 16. The coach said they’re still working on some end-of-year “inventory” during their stay on Oahu.
Even so, “it’s less work and more pleasure," Belichick said.
When not running the generally laid-back practices leading up to the Pro Bowl, Belichick has already spent some time touring the island and golfing. With seven players and the entire staff in town, the Patriots’ plans include getting together for a season-ending reception during their stay.
“It’ll be nice to just do it away from home and in a great spotlight like the island,” Belichick said.
As for playing beside a rival, guard Logan Mankins shrugged off the irony in starting next to Jets tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson on the AFC’s offensive line.
From the other perspective, Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis -- who shared practice time with Devin McCourty on Thursday -- concurred that the rivalry doesn’t come into play this week.
“On and off the field we’re cool, it’s nothing personal,” Revis said. “I’m not into the ‘I hate the Patriots’ type thing. It’s all good.”
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Jason Kaneshiro is covering the Pro Bowl for ESPNBoston.com all week.