W H Y I C A L L P H IL A D E L P H I A H O M E THE FORMER PRO BOWL EDGE RUSHER EXPLAINS WHY HE LAID DOWN ROOTS IN PHILADELPHIA
BY CONNOR BARWIN
Being asked by the Eagles to be the Legend
of the Week presented by Santander for
today’s game against Dallas means a lot. I
had four great years in Philly – tons of great
teammates, tons of good moments on that
field. I’ll be excited.
It’s going to bring back all kinds of great
memories – the battles we had on that
field, the wins, some of the losses. The
amazing times we had on the sidelines,
whether I was talking to Trent Cole or
Brent Celek or Jason Kelce. The times
in the locker room before and after the
games, celebrating a win or mourning a
loss. It will be great to step on that field
one more time and, in a small way, be
involved in one more game here.
I recently made the decision to retire from
the game because I just knew it was time.
I played 10 years and I knew it was time to
move on to the next chapter of my life. I had
a great career, tons of memorable moments,
and I knew it was a good time to step away.
And physically, it was the right time, as well.
I wanted to leave in good health.
I think one of the fondest moments of my
four seasons as an Eagle was that first year,
2013, playing against the Cowboys in Dallas.
Kyle Orton ran a bootleg on fourth down
and I jumped up and batted the pass down.
We took the lead on the ensuing drive and
won the game. That got us into the playoffs.
I’m proud to say I never missed a start as an
Eagle. When I look back at my time in Philly,
I think, again, of so many great teammates,
good relationships, and good people.
During my career, I also played for the
Texans, Rams, and Giants, but what sets
Eagles fans apart is I think they care the
most. It’s known how passionate they are,
but I think the big difference is when you
play in Philly and you play hard and leave
it all on the line, you become part of the
family. And the family is the city and the
fans who are rooting for the Eagles. They
care when things are going well and they’re
there for you when things aren’t going well.
My wife, Laura, and our 1-year-old son,
West, have chosen to become a part of that
family and make Philadelphia our home.
I think it’s the greatest sports town in the
country. I’ve got tons of friends who I played
with that live here, and people outside of
the football world who live here. When I
played, we laid down roots here. And after
I left, I made a couple stops, but we always
knew this would be home.
During my first year here, I started my
Make The World Better Foundation in
2013. When I moved to Philly, I was 26
years old, and I wanted to take a leadership
role and do something positive for the
38 2019 PHILADELPHIA EAGLES GAMEDAY MAGAZINE
community. I grew up on playgrounds and
I wanted to start in kind of a public space/
I rode my bike to practice almost every day
in the offseason by the first project, which
was Ralph Brooks Park. It was very organic
how it all came together and everything’s
kind of snowballed since then. We’re now
working on our fourth project, the Vare
Recreation Center on Morris Street.
The foundation’s mission statement, as it
reads, is, “We work to connect people and
inspire stewardship through public space
revitalization projects.” But really, what that
means is we work with neighborhoods, we
work with people and help them reimagine
what they want the space to look like. And
then we partner with them to actually make
it a reality.
We’re trying to do it the right way. We are
thoughtful in our approach. We’re taking
our time and we’re constantly trying to
prove in our process that we’re putting the
people first in every project.
The physical manifestation of it is amazing
and it gives kids a safe place to play, which
all kids should have access to. I’m very proud
of that. I think our process and the way we
do it is more thorough and challenging, but
I think it makes it more worthwhile and it’s
what I’m most proud of.