People who surf and people who play football are usually different people. But not always. And as athletes get older they learn to appreciate the skills required in different sports. Such was the case on January 26, 2012, in Oahu when Justin Cote of Transworld Surf rode the waves with some of the world’s greatest football players.
Professional surfers were in the Hawaiian island for the Volcom Pipe Pro, while professional football players were there for the Pro Bowl. The football players were game for a surf session. Falcons tight end Tony Gonzales, recalling his skills from when he was on the surf team in junior high, taught his pro-bowler brothers the basics of surfing.
“We met up at the Ihilani Marriot Hotel and hung out around the pool bar with guys like Chargers offensive lineman Scott Mruczkowski, bad ass wide receiver Steve Smith, retired All-Pro quarterback Doug Flutie, Falcons All-Pro tight end Tony Gonzalez, and a slew of very large and happy dudes feeling the aloha spirit with the assistance of a few mai tais.
“The surfers on hand were mostly Quiksilver riders including Kelly Slater, Mark Healey, Fred Patacchia, Reef McIntosh, Sunny Garcia, and NFL über fan Gabe Kling who literally popped out of the kiawe bushes and said, ‘Hey guys what’s going on? Where’s MJD?’
“After piling into a van provided by Hans Hedemann Surf School, we immediately started telling stories about how gnarly the sharks are on the West Side and how deadly the reef is. Flutie bought right into it, ‘That’s why I ride a jet ski, man—they can’t get to you on one of those!’ We also joked about the irony of us surfers getting beat up by jocks in high school and how we now held the upper hand as we headed into the water.
“The surf was perfect for the NFL guys; 2-foot wind swell that broke way outside and gently rolled to the beach. Tony Gonzalez, who grew up in Huntington Beach and was even on the surf team in junior high, was the standout among the players.
“The thing that I really took out of the whole experience was how completely normal and cool the guys were. We put them up on a pedestal because they play the game of football at an abnormally high level, but at the end of the day, they’re just like us and just want to get into the water and have some fun. For the record, Tony G. won the heat—a fact that is sure to light a fire under Brees and Flutie.” Check out all the photos of the event here.
Since Falcons tight end Tony Gonzales was on the surf team in junior high, of course he stood out from the pro-bowler crowd. But the other NFL players were having fun surfing too. Watch Brees do a superman off the surfboard here.