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First-time Pro Bowlers Myers, Smith elated about selection


Texans center Chris Myers' invitation to the Pro Bowl might come with a price.

Myers and Texans defensive end Antonio Smith both made the Jan. 29 all-star game in Honolulu on Thursday as first alternates for the AFC.

Both were humbled by the news, but Myers knows it likely will result in a hit to his wallet. The Texans' offensive line has a friendly fine system in place that punishes their own for media exposure, and Myers is sure to draw ire for being the first offensive lineman in team history to make the Pro Bowl.

"I guess that's to be determined here, because I guess it's never happened before with a Texans lineman going," Myers said, chuckling, on Thursday. "So I'm sure it's going to be a nice hefty fine. I'll just add it to the total from the end of the year. I'll have to wait and see. I'm sure I'll have no say in the matter, though."

Whatever fine Myers may accrue, he'll probably be happy to pay it. The Pro Bowl nod helps validate what many observers said all season: That he has become one of the best centers in all of football.

Myers said Thursday that he was ecstatic simply to make it to the NFL as a sixth-round pick of the Denver Broncos in 2005. He was traded to the Texans for a sixth-rounder in 2008. Now, he has started 80 consecutive games and is headed to his first-career Pro Bowl.

"Obviously, that's an individual goal that any kind of player wants to be able to receive," Myers said. "It's something extra that's on top of a great season, but never did I in my wildest dreams ever think that I could ever reach there, let alone start in the league.

"It's very humbling, and I've been very blessed. I view it as a whole offensive line award, because there's no way I would've been able to perform, especially at center, without the help of both my guards and obviously the tackles."

Myers is bringing his entire immediate family – wife, two daughters, parents, two brothers and sister –along for the week in Hawaii.

"It should be a fun time," he said. "We're looking forward to visiting. I've never been to Hawaii, neither has any of my family, so it's going to be a great experience for all of us and I'm glad I'm able to share it with 'em."

Smith, another first-time Pro Bowler, found out he made the AFC squad via text message from Texans head coach Gary Kubiak.

"I was ecstatic, man," Smith said on Thursday. "I was happy, grateful, thankful, all at the same time once I found out. It's something I've always wanted, especially these past three years. It's something I've always been trying for and shooting for, and so I was real grateful that my peers respect me enough to vote me in. That's something I've always prayed for. I even prayed for it this year, and it finally came true. (God) answered it."

Like Myers, Smith had a circuitous route to his first Pro Bowl. A fifth-round draft pick in 2004, he was cut twice by the Arizona Cardinals in his first two seasons. He played in NFL Europe in 2005. Smith ranked second on the Texans' second-ranked defense in 2011 with 6.5 sacks, a new career-high.

"It all happened the way it's supposed to happen," Smith said of his career. "It all molded me and built me into the person and the player that I am today, and I think probably if it wouldn't have happened, I wouldn't be probably the player I am today. It's been a long road, it's been a long road, and it's been fun. So, I'm just happy. I'm excited seeing what it's going to be like to play in the game."

There's no word on whether Smith will bring his "Ninja Assassin" mask to Honolulu, but he will have quite a few guests with him, including some defensive teammates.

"All my family (is) already going crazy over it, and I told my D-line that any of them, the front seven, any of them that wanted to come, I'm bringing 'em," he said. "If they want to be there, they goin' be there."

Smith and Myers are both looking forward to playing under Kubiak and the rest of the Texans' coaching staff for the AFC squad in Hawaii.

"Now that's going to be awesome," Smith said. "I get to miss around with (defensive line coach) Bill (Kollar) and crack jokes. You get to be loose. It ain't like you around coaches you ain't never met before. You're around your own guys. It's going to be fun."

Added Myers: "Finding out our whole staff is going to be able to coach our team, the AFC, is going to be even that much more fun for us. It's going to make it that much more comfortable for us, not having to learn any new schemes or anything, just going to be able to enjoy it with my family and obviously the whole staff and the whole organization."

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