Feb. 14, 2005
By The Associated Press
KAPOLEI, Hawaii -- Whether Mark Fields was chasing down Torry Holt and Ahman Green in practice or relaxing with NFC teammates, the Carolina Panthers' linebacker has worn a smile all week.
Fields, a former Washington State Cougars player, is enjoying everything about his second trip to the Pro Bowl -- and celebrating life after Hodgkin's disease.
"I'm just really happy right now," said the 32-year-old Fields, a replacement for injured Derrick Brooks of Tampa Bay. "This is a little sweeter than the first one, just because of the circumstances and the obstacles that I had to go through."
Carolina receiver Muhsin Muhammad, a fellow Pro Bowl player, said of Fields, "He didn't just come back to play, he came back to dominate."
When Fields was going through his most difficult times, Muhammad knew the linebacker would remain upbeat.
"When you speak about overcoming adversities and obstacles in life, we talk about the normal things that affect us, but cancer is life-threatening," he said. "He battled back and made it to the Pro Bowl. I can't say enough about that."
Fields found his fight with cancer to be a humbling experience that changed his outlook.
"You don't take things as lightly anymore," he said. "You're happy to get up and see the sunshine. You're happy about the little things now."
The league lifted a local television blackout of tomorrow's Pro Bowl when enough tickets were sold to ensure the 26th consecutive sellout for the game.
The league's usual sellout deadline was extended 24 hours on Thursday to allow organizers to sell the final 2,000 seats at Aloha Stadium. A large number of tickets were returned this year by Hawaii-based military personnel who are stationed overseas or unable to leave their bases