ORLANDO, Fla. -- Anyone hoping for warm and sunny conditions in Orlando, Florida, for the first day of 2020 Pro Bowl festivities was sorely disappointed.
Fans and players alike were greeted by cold winds and a slow drizzle of rain instead of a brief escape from the frigid January weather. It was 38 degrees as the first round of practices came to a close, and even though the temperature slowly rose throughout the day, the sky was still covered by a tapestry of grey clouds.
All that didn't dampen Redskins punter Tress Way's spirits, though. He was all smiles as fans from all the represented teams crowded around the practice fields. But Way has every reason to be happy; after all, it's his first Pro Bowl, and he wants to take it all in.
"It is windy and freezing. That is not what I had in mind leaving Oklahoma to come down to the Pro Bowl, but nonetheless, it is a Pro Bowl, and this is frickin' sweet," Way said.
The past few months have seen a flurry of news come in Way's direction, and all of it has been good. First, he found out that he was going to be the starting punter for the NFC in the Pro Bowl, then he received a four-year contract extension, and after that he received second-team All-Pro honors at the end of the year.
Based on Way's reaction and the euphoria he's shown since he found out that he made the 2020 roster, it's apparent that he truly wanted the honor. He even cried in celebration when he heard the news. Still, the reality didn't hit home until the first group meeting Tuesday night when he was in the same room as players universally recognized as future Pro Football Hall of Famers.
"It's so hard to describe," Way said. "It is definitely surreal. When we had that welcome reception and seeing everyone, it was like, 'this is the Pro Bowl.'"
Way knew the Pro Bowl was a celebration of the season's best players, but he didn't expect it to be this fun. There was music, dancing and even a basketball shoot-off between offensive and defensive players during practice.
"The place was going nuts," Way said. "It is seriously so fun, and it's just getting started."
Way became the first Redskins punter to be selected to the Pro Bowl since Matt Turk in 1998. Way joins Turk (three-time Pro Bowler from 1996-98) and Reggie Roby (Pro Bowler in 1994) as the only players in Redskins history to be selected to the Pro Bowl as a punter.
A member of the Redskins since 2014, Way has had an outstanding career donning the burgundy and gold and had another great season in 2019. He had 79 punts for 3,919 yards -- a career high -- and averaged 49.6 yards per punt. At the time of his selection, his 26 punts inside the 20-yard line ranked eighth in the league.
Way still has plenty of excitement left on his schedule before the game kicks off Jan. 26 at 3 p.m. He has a chance to go to Harry Potter World, which is ironic because his family tried in vain to get him to read the popular book series for years.
Way is going to enjoy himself, though. He plans on learning all the spells and, as he put it, "nerding out" the entire time.
"Just embarrassing my wife," Way said about going to the amusement park. "That's kind of the main goal here."
After seeing the magic Way can perform with a football, he has earned the right to have some fun.
"I'm just so thankful," Way said. "This is so awesome."