Celek's blueprint to being an ultimate Philly athlete

Celek's blueprint to being an ultimate Philly athlete

In a business where nobody stays anywhere for 11 years, Brent Celek was an Eagle for 11 years.

Think about the landscape of the Philadelphia Eagles when he arrived for his first rookie minicamp.

Jim Johnson was the defensive coordinator. John Harbaugh was the secondary coach. Brian Dawkins was still here. Donovan McNabb was the quarterback and Kevin Kolb was his backup. The Eagles had just acquired Montae Reagor, Takeo Spikes and Kevin Curtis.

It’s like reading an Eagles ancient history book.

For 11 years, for 184 games, Celek wore an Eagles uniform, and for 11 years, for 184 games, nobody wore it with more class and more pride.

Celek loved being an Eagle, and we loved him because he played the game exactly how we want our athletes to play. How we demand they play. With reckless abandon, with no regard for personal achievements, with an eye only on team success.

What impressed me the most about Celek is how he transformed himself over the years from one of the NFL’s top receiving tight ends to one of the league’s best blocking tight ends.

From 2009 through 2013, Celek averaged 54 catches, 696 yards and five touchdowns per season, and only five NFL tight ends had better numbers during that stretch — Jason Witten, Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, Vernon Davis and Jimmy Graham. Some all-time guys right there.

Then Zach Ertz blossomed in 2014, and Celek all of a sudden was asked to stop catching passes and start focusing on blocking, and it never mattered to him because all he wanted to do was help the team win football games. Whatever it took.

That fierce team-first mentality carried over into the locker room and helped make Celek a natural leader and fan favorite. And that unselfish spirit really drove the 2017 Eagles, so although his stats may not have looked like much this past season — career lows of 13 catches and 130 yards — Celek was a huge part of what this team accomplished.

And it’s fitting that the 184th and final game he played as an Eagle was the franchise’s greatest triumph in the last 50 years.

Nobody was happier in the locker room at U.S. Bank Stadium on Feb. 4 after Super Bowl LII than Celek, who has spent a third of his life working for one, single goal and got to experience it being achieved.

And his teammates kept talking about how happy they were for Celek.

This is a franchise that has been around for 85 years, and only David Akers, Dawkins and Harold Carmichael have played more games than Celek.

Of the 17 players in Eagles history who have spent 11 or more years here, only eight played their entire career here.

Chuck Bednarik, Bucko Kilroy, Vic Sears, Jerry Sisemore, Bobby Walston, Randy Logan and Pete Retzlaff.

And — as of now — Celek.

That’s the company he’s in.

Celek still wants to play, and if there’s a team out there that needs a smart, tough, savvy backup tight end, I can’t think of a better candidate.

But like Dawkins or Reggie White or Carmichael, he’s one of those guys that would be really tough to see in another uniform.

It’s funny. In 2009, when Celek finished 29 yards shy of 1,000 for the season, I was really upset. I wanted him to get that 1,000 yards. Which he never did get. And when he finished this past season with 4,998 career yards, I was gutted. I couldn’t imagine him leaving Philly two yards short of 5,000.

But when I think about it now, Celek probably doesn’t even care about that stuff. He would just shrug and shake his head and say numbers don’t matter.

What does matter?

He’s a winner. He’s a champion. He’s an Eagle. And he always will be.

Eagles Mailbag: Biggest concern on 2018 roster

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Eagles Mailbag: Biggest concern on 2018 roster

We’ve officially reached the only sort of dead period on the NFL calendar. The Eagles are through their spring practices and won’t be back at the NovaCare Complex until July 25 for the start of training camp. 

That sounds far away, but it’ll be here before you know it. 

You guys were great and gave me a ton of questions, so I’ll answer half today and half Sunday. Let’s go: 

I’m tempted to say defensive tackle just for health concerns surrounding Tim Jernigan, but I have to answer linebacker. Jordan Hicks appears to be healthy after tearing his Achilles last year, but as good as he is when healthy, it’s just tough to count on him. Two years ago, he was able to play a full season and things were looking good, but then he suffered another serious injury. If Hicks and Bradham stay healthy, linebackers aren’t a concern. The Eagles will have either Kamu Grugier-Hill, Nate Gerry or Corey Nelson take the weakside spot on base downs and they’ll be OK. 

But without Mychal Kendricks, it’s fair to be concerned about their depth at the position, especially after veteran pickup Paul Worrilow was already lost for the year. Kendricks came up huge last year as a fill-in; not sure the Eagles have that kind of depth this year. 

Not sure yet. What I can tell you about De’Vante Bausby is that he was impressive this spring and the coaching staff seems to love him. I remain very, very skeptical that he’s good enough to keep Sidney Jones off the field. With that said, I do think he’s talented enough to make the 53-man roster. We’ll get a better sense at camp when the pads go on, but I have him penciled in to make the team. 

Yes on both. The Nate Sudfeld hype is real. In our first extended looks at the young quarterback, he’s been incredibly impressive. It’s starting to make sense why the Eagles snatched him from Washington and then blocked the Colts from signing him last season. They kept him on the 53 in the second half of last year, so they’re completely prepared to keep three QBs on this year’s roster if Foles is still on the team. 

This is going to be the summer of Nate Sudfeld. We’re going to see him play a ton in those preseason games and that will let us know if he’s ready to be QB2 behind Carson Wentz. But the fact that the Eagles didn’t bring in a more experienced veteran after Wentz went down last year pretty much tells you all you need to know about what the Eagles think of him. 

We tried that. Didn’t work out well. We’re up for suggestions. 

You have no idea how out of water this fish is. This is like taking a fish from the ocean and dropping it in Kansas. 

How about Portugal? I’ll go with them because of Ronaldo. 

Where should Carson Wentz land on NFL's top 10 list?

Where should Carson Wentz land on NFL's top 10 list?

We now officially know Carson Wentz will be somewhere in the top 10 of the NFL Network’s top 100 players of 2018. 

We just don’t know where he’ll land. 

As far as the other Eagles on the list, the Super Bowl champions weren’t extremely well-represented: 68. Zach Ertz, 69. Fletcher Cox, 95. Lane Johnson, 96. Malcolm Jenkins. 

Before tearing his ACL and LCL on Dec. 10 in Los Angeles, it seemed like Wentz was on his way to an MVP season. In 13 games, Wentz threw for over 3,200 yards and a franchise-record 33 touchdown passes. 

Wentz is the only player in the top 10 who has never been anywhere on the top 100 list before. Can he go from off the list to No. 1?

Here’s the list of players (in alphabetical order) who will be unveiled in the top 10 on Monday night. 

  • Le'Veon Bell 
  • Tom Brady 
  • Drew Brees 
  • Antonio Brown
  • Aaron Donald 
  • Todd Gurley
  • Julio Jones 
  • Von Miller 
  • Aaron Rodgers
  • Carson Wentz

In the comments below, leave your top 10 in order. We’ll see how close everyone can get. 

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