"He just completed a season in which he endured his share of aches and pains and hip surgery is looming, but Chris Snee never seriously considered opting out of the Pro Bowl. The twin opportunities of playing in the game and spending two weeks with his family in Hawaii were impossible to turn down. This is the first time Snee was selected without another Giants lineman. Center Shaun O’Hara was chosen in each of his first three appearances (2008-10), though O’Hara didn’t play in the last of those games because of injury. Tackle David Diehl joined the duo in 2009, when the game was played in Miami.
“That’s why I’m going,” Snee said today after a workout in the Timex Performance Center. “The experiences that I’ve had with my kids and my wife and just meeting all the guys; it’s something I couldn’t pass up on. You only get so many of those opportunities in life and I’m going to cherish every one of them.
“This hip - it feels fine now. It’s quieted down. With the experience that I have with my kids, I can put off the surgery for three or four weeks. That’s what this life is about. I’m going to go out there; we’re going to have something we can remember forever.”
Snee and his wife, Kate, have three sons: Dylan (9), Cooper (6) and Walker (2˝). This is his fourth Pro Bowl – third in Hawaii – so they have mapped out a full schedule.
“(Dylan) remembers the first time,” Snee said. “He’s like, ‘Dad, I want to go back here, I want to go back there.’ Being nine, that’s old enough where he’ll remember this forever. To me, that’s special and that’s an experience in life that I can’t pass up.”
Of course, Snee plans to have a pretty good time himself at the Pro Bowl, which will be played on Jan. 27. He will be joined on the NFC team by fellow Giants Eli Manning, Victor Cruz and Jason Pierre-Paul .
“You see the same helmet out there at practice, that’s fun,” Snee said. “That’s something that this whole team should take pride in, the number of guys that you send. I know it gets a lot of negative rap about this being a publicity thing, but it’s just not one group (of voters) that selects it.”
Snee is currently the backup NFC guard, behind San Francisco’s Mike Iupati and New Orleans’ Jahri Evans. If the 49ers defeat Atlanta in the NFC Championship Game and advance to Super Bowl XLVII, Iupati will be replaced by Green Bay’s Josh Sitton and Snee will start.
“I know Jahri; I’ve been there with him twice,” Snee said. “I don’t know Iupati. If he’s not there, I know (Sitton) quite well. I know (NFC backup center Jeff) Saturday and I don’t know (starting center Max) Unger. There will be new faces and guys I haven’t met before."
“It was special that one year when Dave and Shaun and I went,” Snee said. “Just to be there with three guys is something to be proud of.”
Like every player fortunate to play in multiple Pro Bowls, Snee has learned to pace himself in practice and in the game.
“My experience was, my second time, practice was going on 25 minutes long and (Donovan) McNabb looked at (NFC coach) Wade Phillips and said, ‘How much of this do we have left?’” Snee said. "He said, ‘Oh, we’re about halfway,' and Donovan was like, ‘No, we’re done now.’ He called it up and Wade Phillips is looking at the script saying, ‘We’re not done here.’ We called it up. We got on the bus. We got out of there. That’s what practice is.
“It’s all just basic terminology, basic football 101.”
And the game?
“It’s just like any other all-star game you watch,” Snee said. “I know a big deal is being made of it, but I don’t see a lot of defense going on in the NBA All-Star game or the NHL All-Star game. Why it’s such a big deal? We’re going to go out there to enjoy ourselves and it’s an experience that you should enjoy. No one wants to get hurt in that game. If that’s not good enough, they can find something else to do. It’s a trip that’s a reward and guys look at it that way.”
But if the game is close, the intensity picks up at the end.
“Every year I’ve been there, in the fourth quarter there’s been times when they crank it up,” Snee said. "There’s a big difference between winning and losing that. One, we’re competitors, and there’s a monetary difference.”
Snee just completed his ninth season. He has missed only six games in his career, just one since his 2004 rookie season. A second-round draft choice from Boston College in 2004, Snee has started all 138 regular season and 11 postseason games in which he’s played at right guard.
The season takes a toll in so many ways, but Snee appreciates the opportunity to play more than he ever has. After each season, he talks to Kate about his football future.
“It started after the Super Bowl last year,” he said. “That was when I physically felt shot. I said, ‘If I went through that again, I would be done.’ This year, it was just the hip; I got rolled up on. It was actually someone falling onto the back of my leg that did the damage. Other than that, I kept myself in great shape and, physically, I felt better than I have in two or three years. That being said, I’m getting older and you can’t do the same things you could four or five years ago. If you’re looking for the same player I was when I was 26, you’re not going to find anyone who, I’m 31 tomorrow, can do what they could do when they were 26. Do I still think of myself as one of the top guards? Yes, I do.
“Right now my mindset is year-to-year. That’s all you can focus on. I sat down with my wife after this year and decided if I wanted to do it again. It’s a grind. There’s a lot that goes into it mentally and physically, but I couldn’t see myself walking away just yet.”
So does that mean he’ll be back taking his three-point stance at right guard next season?
“If they want me back,” Snee said, “I’ll be here in 2013.”