I’m going to miss LeGarrette Blount. The big RB came to Philadelphia a year ago with a reputation of being hard-hitting but surly. Fans fretted how Blount would respond if Doug Pederson didn’t make him the Eagles’ primary ball carrier.
Turns out, Blount was the consummate teammate. He was the first guy to welcome Jay Ajayi when the former Miami Dolphin joined the Eagles in November – a move that improved the team but reduced Blount’s workload.
Blount continued to play tough, all the way through his 21-year TD run in the Super Bowl. On Sunday, he signed a free-agent contract with the Detroit Lions. But he left behind a message for the locals, posted on Instagram:
“To all the Eagles fans I thank you from the bottom of my heart for showing me so much love and accepting me with open arms! We brought the 1st ever Super Bowl to Philly! I loved and enjoyed my time there! What an amazing feeling!”
Players come and go in pro sports – especially the NFL, where there are virtually no guaranteed contracts. Trying to hold a team together, especially a Super Bowl champion, is like trying to hold water in your hand.
So we already know the 2018 Eagles will be vastly different than the team that just celebrated in front of two million fans at the art museum. We hope they’ll be as talented, as united and as gritty as that historic group.
But already, four new potential starters have flown into Philadelphia. And eight – eight! – key contributors are gone to trade, free agency, cuts or retirement.
I’m going to miss them all. I’ll miss Torrey Smith. The wide receiver didn’t have a great season and trading him to Carolina made sense. But he was a terrific teammate, leader and citizen during his one year here.
I’ll miss “Bag o’ Bones” Donnie Jones, whose booming punts so often gave the Eagles field-position advantage. I’ll miss Beau Allen and Vinny Curry, both part of an outstanding defensive line rotation.
The best quote here comes from hockey – Broad Street Bullies coach Fred Shero, to be exact. The afternoon that the Flyers won their first Stanley Cup in 1974, Shero scrawled this on the locker room chalkboard:
“Win today and we walk together forever.”
And so it will be for the 2017 Eagles. Twenty years from now they’ll hold a reunion, and hug like long lost brothers. We’ll beg former TE Trey Burton to reenact the “Philly Special” with a graying Nick Foles and Corey Clement. We’ll explain to our grandchildren how Patrick Robinson, here just for a season, turned around the NFC title game with that Pick Six against Minnesota.
I saved the best for last. I’ll miss Brent Celek – released after 11 seasons because pro football is, let’s face it, a heartless business. Rumors have Celek talking to the Lions and Chiefs, and while I wish him success, I know he’ll just look odd in a uniform that isn’t midnight green.
Celek already said he plans to make his home in Philadelphia. He’s been deeply involved in businesses and charities during his years here. He hinted about returning to the organization in some capacity down the road. Owner Jeff Lurie was spot on when he once termed the tight end, “the ultimate Philadelphia Eagle.”
If you see ever Celek – or any of these guys – around town, give him a high-five or a hug. And buy him a beer. After what they’ve given us, none should ever pay for a drink again.