In his 11th season, Brent Celek is finally on his way to a Super Bowl.
The most popular guy in the Eagles' locker room ended his personal eight-year wait to win a playoff game last weekend and on Sunday, in his 183rd career game, he walked off the field at the Linc knowing the Super Bowl was next.
"He’s one of my closest friends on the team," Jason Kelce said. "What he’s been through in his career — he’s the ultimate unselfish guy and he really represents what this team is about, maybe better than anybody.
"For a guy to have been with an organization this long and finally get an opportunity like we’re going to get in the next two weeks, I’m very happy for him."
Celek isn't a big-time receiving tight end anymore, but he is still solid at the point of attack and can catch a ball here or there when he has to. He's also one of this team's most passionate leaders and hardest workers. He's really an icon in this organization.
"It means a lot, but honestly, we’re not done yet," Celek said. “We’ve got to keep this thing going. We’ve got another game to play and I think everyone in that locker room understands that.
"This is not like we’ve reached our destination. We’re getting there but we’ve got to finish what we started."
The Eagles beat the Atlanta Falcons 15-10 last weekend and the Minnesota Vikings 38-7 on Sunday to advance to their third Super Bowl. They'll face the New England Patriots in Minneapolis on Feb. 4.
Celek said he never doubted that one day he would get a chance to play on the biggest stage in sports.
“I’ve always been a positive guy, always thinking positive," Celek said. "The chemistry that we’ve had on this team this entire season has been absolutely phenomenal. Things have been going our way.
"And when you have fans like that who have your back — this is a tough place to play. This is a tough place to play."
In Celek's only previous NFC Championship Game, the Eagles lost an excruciating 32-25 game to the Cardinals in Glendale, Ariz., in 2008.
Celek caught 10 passes for 83 yards and two touchdowns in that game, which the Eagles led until late in the fourth quarter. He hasn't been the Eagles' primary tight end since Zach Ertz was drafted in the second round back in 2013.
Ertz had eight grabs for 93 yards on Sunday in the win over the Vikings, the most yards by an Eagles tight end in a playoff game since Keith Jackson had 116 against the Redskins in a 1990 wild-card loss at the Vet.
“Brent's been huge for my development as a tight end," Ertz said. "You hear horror stories as a rookie about veteran guys being mean to high draft picks and never helping them.
"Nothing could have been farther from the case with Brent. I owe a lot of my success to him and I’m very grateful for that. He brings a different kind of energy to our the room. It wouldn’t be the same without him.
"I love playing with him," Ertz said. "I hope he never retires. I think he’s got a few more good years left in him, but that’s his decision."
Celek was originally a fifth-round pick out of Cincinnati back in 2007.
Only three players in franchise history have played more games in an Eagles uniform: David Akers, Brian Dawkins and Harold Carmichael.
“Brent Celek — one of the classiest human beings you’ll ever have on a team or in an organization no matter what he’s doing," Eagles owner Jeff Lurie said. "I’m really glad he’s a part of this.”