HONOLULU — It's been a while since Mack Strong has been called a rookie. This time around, he doesn't mind.
The Seattle fullback, who helped paved the way for league MVP Shaun Alexander in the Seahawks' run to the Super Bowl, is playing in the Pro Bowl for the first time in 13 NFL seasons. It was a long wait, but Strong is happy to finally be in Honolulu.
"No doubt . . . It was worth it," he said Thursday.
At 34, Strong isn't the oldest player to earn a trip to Hawaii this year. That distinction goes to Seahawks All-Pro center Robbie Tobeck, who turns 36 next month and is about a month older than Kansas City's 11-time Pro Bowl tackle Willie Roaf.
Alexander jokingly called Strong and Tobeck "the oldest rookies ever."
"I'm just proud that they're here," said Alexander, who led the league with a team-record 1,880 yards rushing and a league-record 28 touchdowns. "They've worked so hard in their careers."
It took Tobeck, an injury replacement for Chicago's Olin Kreutz, and Philadelphia Eagles tight end Mike Bartrum, the NFC's long snapper, a dozen years to be selected to the Pro Bowl.
They are all among 19 first-timers on the NFC roster. There are 16 first-time Pro Bowlers for the AFC.
Tobeck said his experience this week has been better than what he imagined. He's visited the islands before, including vacationing on Maui and the Big Island, but never during Pro Bowl week.
"It's a real honor to be out here playing among guys from different teams, some of your peers and some of the guys you competed against," he said.