Eagles in awe of the Tom Brady age game

Eagles in awe of the Tom Brady age game

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Tom Brady won his first championship on Feb. 3, 2002. On that day, Brady was exactly 24½ years old. He led the Patriots to a 20-17 win over the Greatest Show on Turf. 

That was 16 years ago. 

There's just one player on the current Eagles roster who was old enough to have a legal drink that day: Donnie Jones. 

"I did not know that," said Jones, shaking his head. "That was a long time ago. How old was I? I was 21. Wow. 

"I was probably having a drink watching him."

For many Eagles players, thinking about how long ago it's been since Brady won his first Super Bowl and thinking about how long the G.O.A.T. has been able to play at this high of a level is pretty mind-boggling. 

Jones was 21 years, 6 months and 29 days old for Brady's first Super Bowl. 

Brent Celek, the Eagles' longest-tenured player, was 17 and just a few months shy of graduating high school. 

Veteran leader Malcolm Jenkins was a 14-year-old freshman in high school. Brandon Graham was 13 and was on the B team in Little League. Pro Bowler Fletcher Cox had just turned 11. Jordan Hicks was 9. 

Derek Barnett and Sidney Jones, who are now 21, were 5 years old back on that day. 

"I guess when you really do think about it, it is crazy," said Barnett, who is the youngest player on the Eagles' roster by about a month. "I don't try to look at it like that. When we're on the field, we're on the field. We're both football players."

Brady, at 40 years old, is the oldest player on either of the two teams. When he takes the field on Sunday, he'll become the oldest quarterback to ever start a Super Bowl, taking over another one of Peyton Manning's records. 

Over the last week, it's become a fun question to ask Eagles players: Where were you in 2002 when Brady won his first Super Bowl? 

"Whoa, 2002?" Hicks asked. "Man, I graduated high school in 2010 and I was 17, so ... 9. I was 9 years old. Wow! That's wild. Well-deserved, greatest quarterback of all-time. I've got a lot of respect for him."

Celek is thought of as the elder statesman of the Eagles, but even he was still in high school in 2002. While Brady has won five Super Bowl rings, Celek will play in his first world title game in a few days. 

"To be able to do that at his age, being 40 years old, it's unbelievable, man," Celek said. "I wish I knew his secret."

Veteran special teamer Chris Maragos has been in the NFL since 2010 and won a Super Bowl ring with the Seahawks in 2013. In 2002, he was a freshman at Park High School in Racine, Washington.

The veterans in the league probably find Brady's longevity even more impressive than the younger players. 

"Just because you understand the commitment that this game takes," Maragos explained. "You can have one good season in the NFL but this is a very humbling league. You have to play at a high level, you have to train at a high level, you have to keep your mind sharp at a high level. So the fact that he's been able to do what he's been able to do for so long is extremely impressive. As a competitor, you give him hats off. Just really appreciate what he's been able to do and what he's been able to do for the betterment of our game and our league."

When asked the question, linebacker Mychal Kendricks pulled up the calculator on his iPhone. For the record, he was 11 years, 4 months and 5 days old. 

Chris Long was 16. Vinny Curry was 13. Zach Ertz was 11. Ronald Darby was 8. 

"It's definitely wild," Sidney Jones said. "I'm 21 years old. I was born in 1996. It's wild."

NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Clark contributed to this report. 

Greg Ward still learning wide receiver position after great college career at quarterback

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Greg Ward still learning wide receiver position after great college career at quarterback

Greg Ward threw more touchdown passes in college than Carson Wentz and had a higher career passer rating than Nick Foles. 

These days, his job is catching passes, not throwing them. 

It’s quite a transition from big-time NCAA Division 1 quarterback to NFL wide receiver, but at 5-foot-11, 185 pounds, the former Houston Cougar knows where his future is.

Ward spent all of last year on the Eagles’ practice squad, learning the nuances of a new position and figuring out how to think like a receiver instead of a quarterback. 

He looked surprisingly polished at wide out in training camp, caught nine passes for 63 yards in the preseason and then spent the season focusing on getting better.

“I still haven’t 100 percent gotten the position,” Ward said after a recent rookie camp practice. “I always feel like I can get better, always feel like I can learn something new, feel like there’ll always be something to improve on. 

“Last year was a big year for me. Just learning a new position, learning football period, learning from Alshon (Jeffery), Torrey (Smith) and Nelson (Agholor), it was a very important year for me.

“Just gathering every bit of information I could watching those guys practice and watching them in games and then learning how to apply what you’ve learned to your game.”

Ward never did get a chance to play, but he said he felt himself getting better as the year went along.

“Everybody wants to play,” said Ward, who led Houston to a Peach Bowl win over No. 9 Florida State in Atlanta at the end of his junior year. 

“You’re a competitor, that’s why we all do this. But I was humbled and thankful just to be on a Super Bowl team. Just to be in the NFL period. Some guys aren’t able to play football at all. I’m just grateful to be on a football team. 

“But this is not the end of my story. I am going to get out there and I am going to play.”

Ward was with the Eagles during their postseason run and he was there in Minneapolis for the Super Bowl.

He used every moment, every day, as an opportunity to improve. Even if nobody could see it happening.

“The biggest thing I learned was just being patient, just being humble,” he said. “Our team last year, there was nobody that was selfish. Nobody who thought they were bigger than anybody else. I learned patience and the importance of doing extra. Getting extra work, studying more, watching more film. That’s what it takes to win a championship.”

The Eagles have quite a crowd at wide receiver, with Jeffery, Agholor and Mack Hollins back, Wallace and Markus Wheaton in the fold and guys like Bryce Treggs, Shelton Gibson and Rashard Davis all also in the mix.

But Ward doesn’t concern himself with the numbers.

“The next step for me is to separate myself,” he said. "As a competitor, especially coming from being undrafted, you have to separate yourself. You have to be different. 

“You have to catch whoever’s eye it is, head coach, position coach, catch everybody’s eyes. They have to see value in you. That’s where I am right now. Trying to separate myself.”

How long will it take?

“I’m leaving that up to God,” he said. “I know I’m putting in the hard work and I know one day it will pay off. I know that day will come.”

Jay Ajayi's publicist denies Eagles' RB trashed an L.A. mansion

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Jay Ajayi's publicist denies Eagles' RB trashed an L.A. mansion

Eagles running back Jay Ajayi is strongly denying accusations made in a lawsuit that he trashed a Los Angeles house after the Super Bowl (see story)

The lawsuit, as reported by TMZ earlier this week, accuses Ajayi of throwing three parties at the L.A. mansion he was renting even after the owner told him not to. Ajayi is being charged $25,000 by the owner. 

Shortly after the story broke on Monday, a representative for Ajayi claimed the lawsuit was bogus. 

Now, we have an even stronger detail from Ajayi’s camp. 

Ajayi’s publicist Melanie Wadden told the Miami Herald that Ajayi didn’t throw any parties and caused no damage to the property. 

Additionally, Wadden denied the home owner’s claim that Ajayi pushed him in a menacing manner after confronting him.

“Jay was not involved in any physical altercations,” she said. 

Ajayi’s publicist also told the Herald that Ajayi was a guest and not the renter and the owner wanted the group to pay cash instead of through Airbnb. 

"The entire group voluntarily left the property several days early — no security or police were ever involved or on-site," Wadden said. "They filed a complaint against the owner through Airbnb back in February that included screenshots of the owner asking for cash and trying to communicate outside of their platform [against Airbnb policy]."

Ajayi, who came to the Eagles in the middle of last season in a trade, has one year left on his current contract.