Jaguars News | Jacksonville Jaguars - jaguars.comJohn Oehser
JACKSONVILLE - Trevor Lawrence will remember this for a while.
"It's been really special," he said.
Lawrence, the Jaguars' second-year quarterback, spoke to Jaguars.com this weekend from the 2023 Pro Bowl Games in Las Vegas, Nev. It's Lawrence's first Pro Bowl appearance.
And if the honor was somewhat sudden, that didn't lessen the significance.
"You grew up watching the Pro Bowl and seeing guys playing the game," Lawrence said. "Obviously, there are a lot of different awards, but this is one of those that you kind of dream about as a kid - being in these situations, having opportunities to play in these games and just being able to be around some of the best players in the league."
Lawrence, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, improved dramatically in his second NFL season and led the Jaguars to five consecutive victories to end the regular season - and to their first AFC South title since 2017.
He made the Pro Bowl as an alternate and said he learned of the award this past Saturday - a week after the Jaguars' loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in an AFC Divisional Playoff and days before Pro Bowl activities began.
"I'm kinda still taking it all in," he said, adding with a laugh: "Hopefully, I won't be able to play in any more of them because we'll still be playing. But no ... it's really, really an honor, really cool, to be around these great players and to be in that conversation."
The Jaguars rallied to make the postseason in 2022 after a 2-6 start and trailed the Tennessee Titans by four games in the South with seven games remaining. They won their last five home games after trailing in those games by 17, nine, 17, 10 and 27 points - and Lawrence said receiving the honor after that sort of success added meaning.
"It just shows the kind of season that we had as a team," Lawrence said. "That's the common theme around most of the guys around here. Most of the guys around here are from teams that either made the playoffs, had a good season or went deep in the playoffs - all those things. There's not a lot of guys from teams that didn't have good years.
"That's how this game works: You're on a good team and you play well. It elevates everyone and I think that's when you start to get more recognition. That's where we're headed and I think it's cool for me to be able to represent our team because there's a lot of people that played a part in this and obviously we wouldn't be here without everybody."
Lawrence, who threw 25 touchdown passes with eight interceptions in 2022 after throwing 12 touchdown passes with 17 interceptions as a rookie in 2021, was one of two Jaguars players named to the Pro Bowl in 2022 with wide receiver/returner Jamal Agnew also named. They were the first Jaguars players so honored since wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. and outside linebacker Josh Allen were named to the game following the 2019 season.
This is the event's first year in the current format, with players now participating in skills competitions and seven-on-seven games rather than a game that had become increasingly less physical in recent years with players not wanting to risk injury.
"It really is just getting to know the guys," Lawrence said. "Honestly, it's kind of nice that it's not a real game. We all played a long season. Most of the guys here were in the playoffs and went pretty deep in the playoffs. We played 18, 19, 20 games, so it's kind of nice just to be out here and they make it fun. The challenges are really cool. We still compete, guys are getting competitive. It's fun.
"Guys don't want to hit. Why would you? Guys don't want to get hurt at this point. Obviously, it's an honor to be here and everybody's excited and you want to compete, but at the same time if you get hurt in the Pro Bowl, that can put you out for the whole next season - and that's not what anybody's trying to do. So I think it kind of eliminated that factor of it."
Lawrence, now 15 days removed from a breakout season for the franchise and himself, said he has spent some time reflecting - and that he will do more in the coming weeks. He said his overall feeling remains one of excitement for a franchise that improved dramatically in Head Coach Doug Pederson's first season with the organization - and that has potential for more moving forward.
"It's just such a different feeling than where we were last year when the  season didn't go well," he said. "Guys didn't want to be there and you felt that energy in the locker room and you just weren't sure," he said. "There was a lot of uncertainty going into the  offseason. You didn't know what was gonna happen, so it was kind of hard to really unwind because: One, it wasn't a good year and Two, you just didn't know what was coming.
"Now the feeling is just excited. Obviously, it's a long year and everyone needs a break and needs to recover, but obviously still wish we were playing and just know there was more left out there for us. I'm just excited to get that opportunity again next year and bring those guys back. We have a bunch of chemistry. That was the best part about it. We just had a lot of fun doing it.
"It's exciting knowing we have stability. We have a great culture. We're building. We have great players and coaches that really understand each other and now we have a full year under our belt. It's really exciting."