There were plenty of congratulations and pats on the back for the Steelers players who were selected to the 2012 Pro Bowl on Wednesday, but for all of them there is nothing they would like more than to not be able to play in the game.
The Pro Bowl will be played on Sunday, Jan. 29 in Hawaii and Steelers players want to be busy then preparing for the Super Bowl the following week.
"We have bigger things on our minds so hopefully we can't play," said Mike Wallace. "Any time you can't play and it's not injury related that's great. It means you are doing the right things and you are going where you want to to go – to the ultimate goal, the Super Bowl."
Wallace, along with Antonio Brown, Troy Polamalu, Maurkice Pouncey and Ben Roethlisberger were all voted to the Pro Bowl and would happily trade it for another opportunity to play in the Super Bowl.
"I would give it away right now to go to the Super Bowl," said Pouncey.
For now, though, they are honored that they have been selected by fans and fellow NFL players.
Brown is making his first Pro Bowl appearance, selected as a kick returner after breaking the Steelers single-season record for all-purpose yards with 2,048 yards through 15 games. He ranks second in the AFC with a 27.7-yard kickoff return average and is fourth in punt returns. Brown also returned a punt 60 yards for a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Becoming a Pro Bowl returner was something that has been on his mind since he met with Coach Mike Tomlin prior to the season. Tomlin told him that he would be handling all of the punt and kickoff returns, and let him know what he thought of his potential.
"I talked to Coach Tomlin about it before the season," said Brown. "Prior to training camp we had a meeting. He said I had the makings to be a Pro Bowl returner and he expected nothing less for me. It was something I had written down. It was what my focus was on. That was what was expected. It's a dream to have it come true.
"I just wanted to work hard at that. It feels good. I am excited for the opportunity and the recognition. I just want to build off of it. It made me feel I am doing the right things, putting myself in good position and fulfilling my coach's vision."
Wallace is also making his first Pro Bowl appearance, and is doing so as a starter. Wallace leads the Steelers with 71 receptions for 1,182 yards and eight touchdowns.
"It's great to know you have been doing well and your peers, coaches and fans realize it," said Wallace. "It's good to get recognition. Sometimes people get in because of name, but when you are a young guy it means you are doing well for your team and playing well. That is the hardest part. You get in one time and you can get back. Getting in the first time is the hardest. I am happy to see all of us get in and get credit."
Wallace is excited that Brown is going to be joining him at the Pro Bowl with all of the hard work he has put in this season.
"That is like my little brother," said Wallace. "That guy really took the long road. It's great to see him getting the things he deserves this fast. I talk about my work ethic, his is better than mine. For him to get his first nod this early, I am happy for him."
With part of "Young Money" headed to Hawaii Wallace said he would be happy to have fellow receiver Emmanuel Sanders join them.
"If he wants to come, we want him with us," said Wallace. "He is invited and I will pay for it myself."
Pouncey is another young player heading to the Pro Bowl, voted in for the second time and his first as a starter. But he knows it was the efforts of the entire offensive line that got him where he is.
"I think the guys around me make me look a lot better," said Pouncey. "It's a team award and an individual award at the same time."
During the offseason Pouncey put in a lot of work to make sure he was at the top of his game when the season rolled around and it has paid off.
"I went back and worked on everything during the offseason," said Pouncey. "I went back to Florida and trained, did a college year of training. It helped out in the long run, keeping my body active and getting bigger and stronger."
Roethlisberger, voted to his second Pro Bowl, was giving accolades to his teammates for making it but is also honored by his selection.
"It's an awesome honor," said Roethlisberger. "I hope that I don't get to play in it, but it is an awesome honor to be picked by both your peers and the fans. It's a neat thing."
For Polamalu making the Pro Bowl is old hat as he is headed to his seventh one, his sixth as a starter. While he appreciates it, he also knows it's all about the team.
"It's an incredible honor given the fact that your opponents and coaches who watch you on film and you play against vote for you," said Polamalu. "Like any other individual award that has to do with football, I have always believed it doesn't belong in our sport because we have the truest sense of a team sport. It also recognizes the other guys when someone is recognized, especially in the secondary. You don't have success in the secondary without the entire defense. All parts play a huge role in any individual award. I just wish those guys would be recognized also.
"I try to not put too much into Pro Bowls or anything like that. Ultimately this game is about the Super Bowl. That is what everybody is working to get to."