Two Patriots were named to the 2019 NFL Pro Bowl rosters, which were announced Tuesday night. While much of the football-watching world learned who made it by tuning in to the televised special, cornerback Stephon Gilmore found out from his head coach.
"Bill [Belichick] called me, told me, 'Congrats… Get ready for work this week,'" Gilmore revealed to reporters Wednesday.
The line drew a laugh from the assembled media, but Gilmore acknowledged that he is proud to be named to his second all-star squad, along with teammate Tom Brady. Gilmore's first Pro Bowl distinction came at the end of the 2016 season, the year before he joined the Patriots as a free agent.
"It's good to get recognized… I was excited. It's something you work for. As a kid, you grow up wanting to accomplish those things. So, it's an honor to get chosen.
"Anytime I step onto the field, I try to prove myself," Gilmore added. "I learned a lot, my second year here, getting better, more comfortable with the system, the coaching, my teammates. Just playing fast now without thinking and trying to make plays for my teammates."
This year, the Pro Bowl will once again be played in Orlando, Fla. the weekend prior to Super Bowl LIII. The game itself is one Brady and Gilmore surely don't want to take part in, because they'd rather be preparing for another trip to the Super Bowl. But neither man can realistically think that far ahead right now, because the Patriots, with just two regular season games left, have yet to punch a ticket to the postseason. They can do so with a win over AFC East foes Buffalo at Gillette Stadium this Sunday afternoon.
"No, we've got a big game this week against a division team," he continued. "We've got to earn our business and try to get a win. They've got a good football team. It's a big game. We didn't play against Josh [Allen, the Bills' rookie QB] the first game [at Buffalo in October]. All the receivers are different. They've got basically a new team. We've got to prepare well to beat them."
Doing so would not only qualify New England for the playoffs, it would halt a rare two-game skid in the month of December. So, despite the Pro Bowl honors for Gilmore and Brady, the cornerback understands that the focus this week must be about learning from these most recent losses in order to achieve a higher goal.
"Got to forget about it and focus on the little things," he concluded. "Go back to the drawing board and get better this week and try to come out with a win."