Playoff football is here, baby!
Six out of my 12 years in the NFL, I was blessed to be a part of the playoffs. My first two years with the Eagles, one year with the Lions, a year with the Giants and two with the Steelers.
During those playoff games I was one and done three times, done in the divisional round once, in the championship game twice, and I won Super Bowl XL.
As I watch the Eagles enter this divisional round, it brought me back to experiences that I will never forget. One impressive game was the Steelers at the Colts in the 2005 season. I remember the game clearly, as I looked across the sideline at Peyton Manning in his prime against our defense. There were so many key matchups in this battle with the Colts. Outside LB Joey Porter against perennial All-Pro left tackle Tarik Glenn. DT Casey Hampton against All-Pro center Jeff Saturday. The list of Pro Bowlers and future Hall of Famers on the field was evident, and it was very apparent at that point that this was a game for the ages.
When not on the field, I made it a point to take in the moment. I realized that I was in a special moment in my career, not because I was in my 11th year, but more so because I understood that there was something special going on. I knew we were going to win the Super Bowl because everything fell into place. This was the game when Jerome Bettis fumbled and Big Ben made the shoestring, saving tackle.
I was at goal-line TE going into the end zone. Jerome was never a fumbler, and we ran 16 power to the right — our bread and butter play. Alan Faneca, our Pro-Bowl left guard, pulled to the right. All I had to do was cut the DE in the end zone. It was a guaranteed six points, and Bettis fumbled. Wow, what a play by Big Ben.
This was one of the many plays during the year that led to Super Bowl XL in Detriot, Bettis' hometown. We as a team had to send JB into retirement with a ring. I just knew there was something special about this team going into the playoffs as a 6-seed.
Well ... Philadelphia, I feel like this team has the same mojo going on this year. I'm not saying that my Birds are going to the big game, but the Eagles have taken the next-man-up philosophy to a different level. Losing All-Pro players and future Hall of Famers throughout the season and still entering the playoffs as the No. 1 seed is an unbelievable accomplishment.
So I wrote all this to say, make sure you don't lose sight of the moment. Take in the experience of a top-seeded Eagles team ready to fight the odds and naysayers. It can be done as long as the 53 men and coaches believe, even when no one else does.