BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Patriots cornerback Eric Rowe was walking around the floor of Xcel Energy Center with a credential hanging around his neck that read, "Nelson Rowe."
What's up with that?
"That's my first name," he said, looking down at it. "Eric's my middle name. I just always go by Eric."
Oh. That was news to a few reporters from Philly who happened to gather around him on Monday night. They didn't really have that long to get to know him after all. Rowe was drafted by the Eagles in the second round in 2015, but was traded to the Patriots in September of 2016.
Rowe remembers being shocked at the time of the trade, but it wasn't that surprising for some folks. He had already fallen behind seventh-round pick Jalen Mills and the coaching staff that drafted him was long gone.
It took a while for Rowe to get over the initial shock of getting traded. He didn't get over it until he actually got on the field and started playing. From there, he needed to learn a new defense and a new environment.
Here he is a couple seasons later about to face his former team in Super Bowl LII. He said he doesn't find it too weird.
"It's interesting though," Rowe said. "I don't know the odds, you get traded from a team and you get to play them in obviously the highest level there is. That's the interesting part. Besides that, shoot, my mindset is it's just like another team. Obviously, it's a great team that you have to get ready for."
Rowe is still close to several of his teammates from Philly. He still talks to Jaylen Watkins, Jordan Hicks and occasionally Rodney McLeod. And he still uses some of the lessons about being a pro he learned from Malcolm Jenkins.
On Monday, Rowe remembered a long text message he received from Jenkins after the trade. Jenkins told the then-second-year player to keep his head up, to outlast the bad moments because he was going to be a good player.
It worked out OK for him. In his first season in New England, Rowe got a Super Bowl ring. He's going for No. 2 in a few days.
How does he look back on his time in Philly?
"I don't know. Just like a team I was on now," he said. "It's the business of the league. At the time, I was shocked but guys get traded every season. It's obviously nothing new but you have to just move on and keep playing."
It is fitting that Rowe's real name is Nelson, because he's going to line up against a Nelson on Sunday. As the Patriots' nickel corner, Rowe will have to slow down Nelson Agholor, who has had a great season. Agholor was drafted in the first round of the 2015 draft, the round before the Eagles took Rowe. The two faced each other plenty in practice.
Because the Patriots have two very good starting corners, Rowe has become their nickel guy despite a body frame that seems better suited outside. Still, he thinks the switch has helped him become a better player.
"Eric's done a good job for us," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "He's a versatile player who, as you know, played safety in college, played some safety for us. He plays inside. He can do a lot of different things. Smart kid that's long, has good skills, he does a good job of tackling, he does a good job of covering. Again, depending on how our game plan is set up, his role can change from week to week as it does with other players. He's very adaptable to those changes."
Rowe wasn't in Philly for that long, but he got to know the fan base while he was in town. He knows what a Super Bowl win would mean for Philadelphia, but instead of helping the city get there, he's going to try to stop it.
"I saw the videos. They were going nuts," Rowe said. "Riots on the streets after the NFC Championship Game. I know how the fan base is, really passionate. I know a Super Bowl to their city, they'd probably tear the city down."