When the Bears drafted Alshon Jeffery seven years ago, their backup quarterback was Josh McCown.
They didn’t know each other — McCown is 11 years older — but McCown had spent time with the Panthers and was living in Charlotte, which is right up I-77 from Columbia, South Carolina, where Jeffery played college football for the South Carolina Gamecocks.
When I first got drafted in Chicago, he was the first one who gave me a call,” Jeffery recalled Sunday. “He lived in Charlotte and that was right up the street from where I went to school. I went to work out with him and we developed a relationship ever since then.
McCown and Jeffery were teammates for two years in Chicago, before McCown bounced to the Buccaneers, Browns and Jets.
Now, six years later, they’re reunited in Philly.
They were having a lot of fun with it on Sunday, their first day as Eagles teammates.
Jeffery stood on a chair in his locker room videotaping McCown’s chat with the media a few lockers away and even got in a question before the interview ended: “How’s No. 17 as a basketball player?”
McCown laughed and yelled back: “He’s not bad. He’s got some skills. But I can lock him down, just so we’re clear. But 17's not bad.”
McCown had announced his retirement after finishing last season with the Jets, but he said the opportunity to play with a team like the Eagles, a team with Super Bowl aspirations, was too good to pass up.
He said the Eagles were one of the few NFL teams he would have come out of retirement to play for.
They’re getting a great player but a great human being, a great leader, an all-around great guy,” Jeffery said. “Josh is awesome. I don’t know one person that I know that could say one thing bad about him. He’s a great father, he’s a great human being. He’s just a guy you love being around. He comes in the room, everyone just gravitates to him.
McCown is 40 now, older than any quarterback in Eagles history.
Only 17 players in NFL history have thrown a touchdown pass after their 40th birthday, and if all goes well, Carson Wentz will stay healthy and McCown will never even get the opportunity.
But Jeffery said he’s not surprised McCown is still healthy enough to crank it up for an 18th season of professional football.
“We were just talking about that,” he said. “Eighteen years, that’s a long time. But he can still hoop, he’s still athletic, so I know anything’s possible.”
How good a basketball player is the 6-foot-4 McCown?
“I’ll take Josh over most of the guys in this locker room,” Jeffery said.
What about as a quarterback?
“He’s a gamer,” Jeffery said. “He just makes plays and makes things happen."
McCown has completed passes to 105 different receivers in his NFL career, including 116 to Anquan Boldin, 38 to Jeffery, 21 to Emmitt Smith and four to current Eagle Will Tye with the Jets in 2017.
McCown seems thrilled to be back in the NFL and equally thrilled to be reconnected with Jeffery.
“That’s my guy,” he said. “From his rookie year to now — we were just having lunch talking about that, it’s crazy, it’s gone by fast. Respect him as a player, first and foremost, and who he is as a person and what he’s about. He’s a good dude.”
Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.