ST. PAUL, Minn. — The comedian J.B. Smoove approached Brent Celek's riser with force on Monday night at the Xcel Energy Center at NFL Opening Night.
"BC!" Smoove exclaimed as if he saw a long-lost friend.
It became clear pretty quickly that the two actually didn't know each other. It took Celek a split second to recognize Smoove and prepare himself for the hardest-hitting question of the night, one Smoove said Celek was uniquely qualified to answer after 11 years with the Eagles.
"What's more Philadelphia," Smoove began in his distinct voice, "Rocky Balboa eating a cheesesteak sandwich, Dr. J ringing the Liberty Bell or Kevin Hart sitting in front of his TV when you guys lost against the Patriots years ago in his onesie?"
Despite Smoove's attempts to sway Celek toward the Hart option, Celek was steadfast in his decision. Clearly, the answer was Rocky Balboa eating a cheesesteak. That was his answer and he stuck to it.
Celek, 33, has waited a long time to get to the Super Bowl. He doesn't know if it'll happen again. His focus is on the Patriots and winning the game on Sunday, but he's going to enjoy this experience, even if it means answering a silly question from a silly comedian.
"I mean, I think over the last week it's sunk in a little bit," Celek said, one of 11 Eagles players or coaches to get a podium on Monday night. "Really, honestly, it's about focusing on the Patriots now. This game is everything. We can talk about how well we did in the season, but we have to execute in this game."
In the week before the Eagles' first playoff game against the Falcons, Doug Pederson had several veterans who own Super Bowl rings speak to the team. So guys like Malcolm Jenkins and Chris Long talked to the rest of their teammates. But so did Celek.
The longest-tenured player on the team and in the City of Philadelphia stood in front of his teammates and made an impassioned plea. It was a message that hit home for several of the guys in the locker room, especially fellow veteran Vinny Curry (see story).
"I just tried to tell them, listen, this opportunity doesn't come very often," Celek said. "This is my first time being to the Super Bowl. When I was talking to them, it was just being in the playoffs and not just saying 'oh we're happy to be here.' We have an opportunity to go win this thing. That's just what I tried to tell the guys, that these opportunities don't come very often."
Celek said he hoped his message hit home for some of his teammates, but he acknowledged that some of the other speeches would work for other guys. He said if he inspired just one player in the locker room, it was worth it.
Since then, the Eagles have won two games to get Celek to his first Super Bowl in his 11th NFL season.
As he sat on a riser, wearing his professor glasses on Monday night, Celek said the first few days in Minnesota were all about getting acclimated to the city and the hotel. But Celek said that once he left media night, his focus would be completely back on the Patriots, far away from Rocky and a cheesesteak.
"I want to win as bad as you want to win anything," Celek said. "I want to win a Super Bowl. It means everything. I know it means everything to the city, it means everything to our team, this organization. We gotta do it.
"Like I've said many times, it's not just about getting here. We've got to win this thing. That's what our goal is: do everything in our power to win this game."