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Pro Bowl players split on Hawaii vs. Arizona for game

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If you are choosing vacation destinations anywhere in the country, Hawaii would be at the top of nearly everyone’s list. It is certainly at the top of the NFL’s, as the Pro Bowl has been held at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu every year except for one since 1980.

But if you cross Hawaii off that list, Arizona is a decent second choice. Sunday’s Pro Bowl will be held at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale for the first time.

But that does not mean the Pro Bowlers are all happy about it, especially one who calls University of Phoenix Stadium home.

“I’d rather have it in Hawaii,” Arizona Cardinals cornerback Antonio Cromartie said. “The weather, the beaches, the view, scenery, food, Pro Bowl wings, mai tais, things like that.”

Cromartie also said the exclusiveness of Hawaii is part of the experience. He said everyone is more condensed on the island and the hotel is more of just the players, coaches and family.

“It gives a chance for guys to be around the other guys in the NFL,” he said. “I think when we’re here, you got a lot of guys that are farther away and you don’t really have a pool or a view or being in the lagoon.”

Cromartie brought up the one thing nearly every player mentioned they missed about the game being in Hawaii: the beach. Cromartie brought it up right away and San Diego Chargers safety Eric Weddle said one of the highlights of the Hawaii Pro Bowls is getting to visit Oahu’s North Shore.

Most players said they enjoy the beach, but some players, like Indianapolis Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton and Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly, said they don’t care where the game is played. Same for Green Bay Packer wide receiver Randall Cobb, who is attending his first Pro Bowl: They are just happy to be Pro Bowlers.

“I come from a cold area, so you get down here, blue skies, warm weather, can’t beat it,” Kuechly said.

Friday’s high in Charlotte, N.C. where the Panthers’ stadium is was 48 degrees. And while Kuechly misses the beach, he’s finding Arizona’s scenery to be just as enjoyable for a vacation.

“You can’t get to the beach here, but we’re going to go to the mountains here and it’s going to be a good time,” he said.

Temperature for kickoff on Sunday in Glendale is set for 74 degrees, not a whole lot different that Honolulu’s forecast of 77.

Cromartie is one of four hometown players taking part in the game. He is in his first season in Arizona and did not need prodding to find out which location he preferred. But special-teamer and fellow Cardinal Justin Bethel, playing in his second game, said he’s plenty happy playing in his own backyard.

“Hawaii is more of a getaway,” Bethel said. “When you can drive home in five minutes, it’s not the same feeling. But I love the home field.”

Added the Chargers Weddle: “Out here (in Arizona) it’s great food, great restaurants, nightlife. There’s pros and cons to both sides.”