Brett Toth tucked the waistband of his workout pants between his chin and his chest and folded them up once, twice, and then placed them purposefully in a pile on the shelf of his popup stall in the Eagles’ locker room. That neat pile was next to another neat pile, which was next to two pairs of cleats — one white, one black — put there so perfectly a craftsman’s steel square would agree.
You can take the man out of the Army …
“Everything I do represents the Army, what they’ve instilled in me,” Toth said. “I’ve got to carry that. It’s a brand on me. What you have here in front of you is what West Point made me in to.”
Two weeks ago, Toth was allowed to take leave from Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri and came to Philadelphia for a workout. When the Eagles offered him a contract, the process of securing a waiver began. Toth said it got done with help from the staff at his base all the way to the Army Chief of Staff — and he said it couldn’t have happened without President Donald Trump, who in June ordered the Pentagon to develop a policy allowing military academy athletes to play pro sports.
Toth signed with the Eagles on Friday and reported for duty Sunday morning, about 18 months after he last played a football game.
Despite the length of time away from football, he expects the Eagles to throw him immediately into action, first as an offensive tackle and then possibly as a guard.
“The quickest way to learn to swim is to get in the water,” Toth said.
The 22-year-old offensive lineman was a prospect last year, when he became the first West Point product to be invited to the Senior Bowl. He went undrafted and based on the rules at the time, he began to serve his time in the Army as a second lieutenant.
An A12 engineer officer, Toth first went through a basic officer leadership course and was then stationed as a platoon leader in basic training in Missouri. During his year of service, it was pretty hard for Toth to stay connected to football, especially as his weight dipped per Army requirements.
“It was hard,” Toth admitted. “Again, when you’re thinking about training for the army, a bunch of that is hard to train as an offensive lineman. I did get within the height and weight regulations within the Army. You don’t want an offensive lineman that’s down to 260. Whenever I could, I was getting in the strength room on post there. I’ve just got to get all the movements and techniques back.”
Now, Toth (6-foot-6) is up to 290 pounds, but his target weight is 315. Since getting to Philly, he’s already been working with the weight and nutrition staff to help him put on pounds.
When Toth has any free time, he will be continuing his military commitment with Temple’s ROTC program, led by Lt. Col Robert K. Beale. He’s still in touch with folks from his Army life in Missouri. And Toth thinks the same characteristics that helped him be an Army man — preparation, determination, the ability to adapt on the fly — will help him in his football career.
It also seems likely the military taught him to be so well organized.
Just a few feet from Toth’s locker is a disaster zone belonging to two defensive starters. Cleats, shirts, hats and more are spewing out of their adjoining stalls, a relatively common sight in NFL locker rooms. Meanwhile, Toth continued to fold his clothes with precision, placing each item into his tidy locker, where a gray Army T-shirt was proudly hanging.
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