ARE EAGLES AMERICA’S TEAM NOW?
MINNEAPOLIS: The Eagles have it all going right now. In fact, the Birds are poised to become the face of the NFL and America’s Team if they keep all this winning up.
The Eagles are talented, deep and have a great combination of youth and veterans. The team has accumulated great nicknames too, starting with the “J-Train”, “Nicky Franchise,” “Big V,” “The Green Goblin” and Wiz.
And of course everyone in Eagles Nation lives in Cason City, Wentzylvania.
Football America is falling in love with these Birds. Well, except here in Minnesota, where right now anything Eagles gets booed anytime, anywhere, highlighted by the crowd at the Xcel Center, home of the Minnesota Wild and Media Night Monday night.
Thousands of mostly locals showed up at the arena to watch all the hoopla and silliness that goes with Media Day.
It became evident as the night went on, the only reason most were there was to cheer for the Patriots and aim full-throated boos at the Eagles, who knocked off the Vikings 38-7 last Sunday to win the NFC Championship. Many Eagles players took it as a compliment.
But for the rest of country, outside of the Boston area, it’s all about the Birds.
There are no real scandals with any of the Eagles right now, are there?
Lane Johnson’s PED thing is barely visible in the rear view mirror these days.
There is a never-say-die spirit about these guys that is infectious.
Several Eagles players and executives talked about how the Birds have caught on around the country.
“I think it’s a bunch of guys that love football,” Eagles Vice President of Player Personnel Joe Douglas said as the Eagles session started. “And they love playing with each other. They fight for each other, they fight for Doug (head coach Pederson) and they fight for the City. I think the rest of the country sees that, they see the authenticity of this team and it excites them. This team’s overcome so much adversity to get to this point. I think with all those factors combined, I can see we’re an easy team to root for.”
Second year cornerback Jalen Mills agreed with Douglas with regards to their appeal around the country.
“I think it’s from all the adversity we’ve fought through,” Mills said. “You think back, going through our season, we lost our starting running back, we lost our starting left tackle, we lost our starting middle linebacker, our starting special teams players and our starting quarterback. We just kept fighting through adversity every week. We were always counted out but we kept winning. That just shows what kind of unity we have and what type of team we have here. It’s very authentic and people really connect with this team.”
Rookie running Corey Clement said he thought what attracts NFL fans to the Eagles this year is because they are a new and refreshing team.
“For some reason I think people thought we came out of nowhere,” the South Jersey native said. “I think that’s what brought so much attention to us, plus I knew from the day I stepped on the field, on the first day of training camp to the first week of the season, every player had a purpose. And I think it’s purpose that drove this team this year. Purpose to be able to get here and we’re here right now.”
Johnson had his own unique idea why NFL fans across America are connecting with the Eagles.
“They see the Patriots in the Super Bowl every year and it’s like watching the same show of ‘Friends’ or something,” Johnson said at riser Monday night. “Every night if you’re watching the same show, would you get tired of it? Yeah…so what are you going to do? They’re a great team, we all know what they can do…we are going to prepare and be ready, and I’m glad the nation is behind us.”
Patriots fullback James Develin, who was born in West Chester and went to high school in Boyertown, PA, admitted that it will be a bit awkward playing against the team he grew up following throughout his entire time growing in the Delaware Valley.
It seemed even harder for him to talk about his home team being “likeable’.”
“I was an Eagles fan the first 21 years of my life before I got in the NFL,” the 29-year-old Develin said. “It’s a special moment. All my family is still back there. We’ve got a lot of roots there. They (The Eagles) have had a tremendous year, they’re a great team. But I’ve got a job to do on Sunday and we have to be ready to go.” *
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii