Al Thompson
Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor says it is a blessing to play on Christmas Day. Photo by Andy Lewis / contrastphotography.com

During holidays, especially big holidays, most people are off work and want seek entertainmnet to get away from the trials and tribulations of daily life.

When it’s your job to be that entertainment, the definition of Holiday is different.

But Christmas is Christmas. Getting together with family, friends and enjoying the spirit of what the day represents still must be observed.

If you are a NFL player and your team is scheduled to play Christmas day, you do you best to make it work.

The Eagles (12-2) take on the Oakland Raiders (6-8) at 8:30 PM at the Linc (ESPN). It’s a game that if the Eagles win will secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Birds clinched a first round bye last week in New York after the defeated the Giants 34-29.

Head coach Doug Pederson has tweaked the times for the game-day walk through, and meetings, so players, coaches and staff members could have time together with their families.

“I think it’s important that they spend time with their families Christmas morning,” Pederson said. “So I’m giving them an opportunity. I pushed the schedule back just a little bit. We don’t play obviously till eight [o’clock]. Yeah, I think it’s important that the coaches and players [spend time with their families]. Listen, you don’t get these times back. You don’t get them back. It’s too important to me, my family. I want to make sure these players with young kids, coaches with young kids, they get a chance to spend Christmas morning together.”

Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said he did not have a problem with the schedule.

“It’s special,” said Cox, who was selected to his third Pro Bowl this week. “Obviously it’s Christmas. To be playing on Christmas and having chance to go out play in front everybody who’ll be on the couch watching TV. Everybody will be together watching us play against a really good team.”

Wide receiver Nelson Agholor took the idea of playing on Christmas Day a little further.

“It’s a blessing,” said Agholor, who is enjoying his best season as an Eagle. “To be healthy and be able to play this wonderful game and have the opportunity to play this wonderful game on Christmas Day right after you open your presents. That’s the way I look at it.”

Left guard Stefen Wisniewski was honest. He said it might be better to play on Christmas Eve.

“I’d rather play on Christmas Eve and enjoy Christmas with our families,” said Wisniewski who expects to play Monday night. “But they (the NFL) draw it up, we’ll play whenever.”

Wisniewski said he feels for the Raiders players who are making a coast-to-coast trip to play in a hostile environment and with very little chance to make the playoffs even if they upset the Birds.
“They’re in a much worse situation,” Wisniewski said. “We’ll get to see our families on Christmas, they won’t.”

Defensive end Brandon Graham said he was looking forward to being part of many families Holiday time together.

“It’s going to be cool,” Graham said. “I’ve never played on Christmas before. I’ve played on Thanksgiving, but never on Christmas. It’s going to be cool because everyone will be sitting around, eating…it’s almost like a Thanksgiving feel to it, but with gifts.”

While the players are looking forward to the Holiday, to a man, especially on defense, they have business to take care of. The defense has allowed 64 points over their last two games combined. Both games were wins, but you can’t win in the playoffs giving up that many points.

“I know we can play a lot better,” Graham said, referring to last week’s game against the Giants. “We were down 20-7, some teams give in, can’t stop the bleeding. I’m just happy that we kept our focus during those times, the hard times. We weren’t doing anything different, we were just doing it better. We just had enough time to get ahead and get away with a win. I know in the playoffs we know we’re not going to be able to get away with it.”

Note: Eagles left guard Stefen Wisniewski will be listed as quesionable at left guard for duleMonday night. Pederson platooned Isaac Seumalo and Chance Warmack at his spot.

23 Dec 17 - Eagles, Football, NFL, Philadelphia Eagles - Al Thompson - No Comments

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