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Pro Bowl: "Surreal" Honor for Agnew


JACKSONVILLE – Jamal Agnew has experienced a lot of cool in the NFL.

He has been named All-Pro, and he has set an NFL record that can’t be broken. But what the Jaguars' wide receiver/returner is experiencing this week is another level of cool.

"It's surreal," he said.

Agnew, a sixth-year veteran in his second season with the Jaguars, this week is participating in the 2023 Pro Bowl Games – a multi-day competition that will run Thursday through Sunday in Las Vegas, Nev. The NFL changed the event from a game to a skills-competition format this year.

"When you're playing football growing up, watching games – Pro Bowl specifically – you dream about playing in a game like this," Agnew said. "Obviously, it's not like a true game, but to be a part of something like this, to be surrounded by so much talent …

"I'm still trying to unravel it all. It's just a great feeling. It's definitely a cool experience."

Agnew, who returned 21 kicks for a 26.0-yard average with 25 punt returns for an 8.2-yard average this past season, was named to the game as an alternate. He received the news he would be in the game Sunday, and will replace Baltimore Ravens returner Devin Duvernay.

Agnew called it a great way to end a memorable season in which the Jaguars won the AFC South title and advanced to the AFC Divisional Playoff, where they lost to the Kansas City Chiefs.

"We had a long season this year," Agnew said. "We did a lot of great things, a lot of special things. For me personally to finish it off like this … except for winning the Super Bowl, I don't think it could have been any better."

Agnew said he learned the news immediately after Sunday's AFC Championship Game between the Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals.

"[Jaguars director of player development] Marcus Pollard texted me, and I was like, 'Why is M.P. texting me at 10:45 p.m.?'" he said. "He was like, 'Aggie, I've got good news.' I called him and he said, 'You're in.' I said, 'What are you talking about?' He said, 'You're in.' I still didn't know what he was talking about and he said, 'You're in the Pro Bowl. They want you to fly out there Tuesday.'"

He added with a laugh, "I said, 'It's Sunday.' But I'm just grateful for this experience."

Agnew, originally a fifth-round selection by the Detroit Lions in the 2017 NFL Draft, played four seasons with the Lions and was a first-team All-Pro selection as a rookie. He returned two kickoffs for touchdowns that season and has four kickoff returns and two punt returns for touchdowns in his career.

He also tied an NFL record with a 109-yard blocked field goal return for a touchdown for the Jaguars last season in a Week 3 loss to Arizona. The cleats from that return were displayed at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Where does this honor rank?

"It's definitely up there," Agnew said. "I've always wanted to be a part of something like this. My rookie year, I was really close. I was first-team All-Pro, but you want to be in the Pro Bowl and be a part of something like this. I've been close a couple of times.

"To get the opportunity, I'm just extremely grateful."

Agnew said the goal now is to not have this be his lone appearance.

"Once you get a taste of it, you want to get back to this," he said. "It's a top-notch experience. I feel like there are a lot of guys deserving to be here, especially on our team. We have other guys who are definitely deserving to be here. If I had my guys, I would pick my guys over anybody.

"You have to savor it. A lot of things have to fall into place to get to something like this. You have to play really well to get the respect from your peers, the fans, the league. You never know when you're going to be back, but that's the goal – to be here every year."

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