Five Patriots were among the names called Tuesday night when the NFL announced this year's Pro Bowl selections.
QB Tom Brady was named for a franchise record 10th time in his 15-year career. It was the sixth time for cornerback Darrelle Revis and the fourth straight for special teamer Matthew Slater. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski and tight end Rob Gronkowski each earned their third nods to the all-star contest.
Their names will be in the pool of players from whom the honorary captains – this year it's Hall of Fame receivers Michael Irvin and Cris Carter – will choose their squads.
As he dressed hurriedly after practice and raced to the exit, Gronkowski, who already gave his weekly media Q&A time on Tuesday, grinned when asked on the run for his reaction to yet another Pro Bowl distinction.
"Congratulations to Tom and Darrelle and Slate and Stephen," he said as he presumably bolted for Christmas Eve festivities.
Two of this teammates paused for a little lengthier reflection.
"You know, it's an honor to be on the list of great, talented guys and some of the best players in the game," Revis said. "I just have to thank my teammates for making my job a little easier, because it all works together: the pass rush, the schemes that we do that the coaches draw up."
"I'm so thankful for the way the Lord has blessed me over the course of my career," Slater proclaimed. "It's just so humbling. To be recognized for that honor when you have so many good players out there… it really means a lot to me."
"The guys I play with," he added, "really make me the player that I am. I really feel like we have the best special teams group in the NFL, from Brandon Bolden to Jonathan Casillas, Nate Ebner, Chris White, Tavon Wilson. You name it, those guys are great players. I just enjoy the time I spend with them."
As much as they enjoy playing for the Patriots, none of the Pro Bowl-elect players want to take part in the all-star game, because they hope to be preparing for Super Bowl XLIX.
"Not at all. I have no desire to play in it," Slater emphasized. "What goes on in this locker room is more important to me. What we have going with this group of guys is really special. I really enjoy playing with these guys."
"We've got team goals that we want to accomplish and the Pro Bowl is definitely not one," Revis chuckled.
The Pro Bowl game will be held in Arizona, site of this year's Super Bowl, a week before the championship. It will return to its customary location in Hawaii next season.
A few players took a moment to remember their fondest childhood memories of Christmas.
"That first bike, I remember coming down and seeing it under the tree," Slater recalled. "Couldn't wait to get outside and get on it. It was a red tricycle."
Gronkowski also said cited a bicycle and when told of Slater's answer, responded jokingly, "I'm a way better biker than him."
"My favorite gift as a child was a Ninja Turtles skateboard when I was 8 or 9," wide receiver Danny Amendola smiled. "I killed it for a while."
Once again, the entire roster – 53-man and practice squad – was in uniform for a rare practice on the Gillette Stadium game field. The players were in full pads, also an uncommon site, but understandable since they'll be off for Christmas Day and the coaching staff likely wanted to have as spirited a practice as possible before the team returns to work on Friday.