PHOENIX — On the list of remaining Eagles from the last Super Bowl team in 2017, you’ll see Isaac Seumalo’s name.
He was there. He had fun. It’s a team game and he’s a team guy.
But that 2017 season was a trying one in Seumalo’s career. In his second season, the 2016 third-round pick began the year as a starter but was benched for Chance Warmack and then Stefen Wisniewksi during that magical Super Bowl run.
What happened after that season changed his outlook and possibly his career. As Seumalo, 29, prepares for his second Super Bowl, this time as a starter, he reflected back on his important mindset shift.
“It’s just been mental perseverance, learning the game and learning how to approach the game,” Seumalo said from the Eagles’ team hotel a few days ahead of Super Bowl LVII.
“It’s just living in the moment and understanding what you can control and what you can’t. Once it’s done, you gotta move on. That kind of mantra, it really helped me in my game.”
As the rest of Philadelphia was still soaking up the afterglow of Super Bowl LII in the 2018 offseason, Seumalo got to work on himself. Sure, he needed to improve physically, but it was his mentality that needed the biggest shift. That offseason, he met with renowned psychiatrist Dr. Lionel “Lonny” Rosen and that changed everything.
“He changed my whole way of thinking about the game,” Seumalo said.
In addition to his other jobs, Rosen works as a consultant for the Eagles and has notably helped Lane Johnson through his mental health struggles.
Rosen has garnered fame in the sports world before with what has been called the Process, a different way to look at competing in athletics. It’s a philosophy of breaking down a larger goal into more manageable pieces and it’s one that Nick Saban adopted from his time at Michigan State, where Rosen is a psychiatry professor.
“Instead of thinking about 70-80 plays, you say, I gotta think about one play and I’m going to do it 70 times,” Seumalo explained. “I’m going to lock in for this 4-5 seconds, when it’s done, I’m gonna move on. As soon as the series is done, you gotta move on.
“You can’t get caught up on it. As soon as you start thinking about something from before, then you’re not thinking about now. It feels like an avalanche, it feels like you’re swimming in the deep, drowning. It’s a bad feeling. I’m glad that I moved on from all that.”
Seumalo on Wednesday actually compared playing offensive line to cornerback. You know, the position where everyone says you need to have a short memory.
“A lot of times, you’re on an island, a lot of times you’re going backwards, the only time your name is mentioned is when something bad happens,” Seumalo explained. “You gotta be consistent throughout the game.”
After Wisniewski began the 2018 season as the Eagles’ starter, the team clearly thought Seumalo was ready. He was back in the starting lineup by Week 5 and every game he’s played in since then has been as a starter.
Of course, that’s not to say everything has come easy for Seumalo since that point.
Last year, Seumalo suffered a very serious Lisfranc injury in Week 3. It’s an injury that’s significant enough to make Jason Kelce emotional when he heard the news.
So this year, in his final year of his contract, Seumalo came back from an injury that has ended careers before and, thanks to the emergence of Landon Dickerson, switched sides to right guard. He has started all 19 games this season after playing a total of just 12 the previous two seasons. He was named a Pro Bowl alternate.
“Isaac has been a really special player in this building for a long time and we’ve all known that,” Kelce said. “I’m glad he’s starting to get the recognition publicly.”
Quieter than most of his offensive line teammates in Philadelphia, Seumalo eschews the spotlight. He is a man of few words but Kelce explained last month that it is what makes his words carry more weight.
Seumalo will often turn down interview requests back in Philadelphia. But during Super Bowl week, every player is made available. There’s nowhere to go. It’s just part of the job this week, Seumalo said.
And this year people want to talk to him. Because after everything, he’s about to start in the Super Bowl. And he’s not taking that for granted.
“I’ve been soaking in every moment,” Seumalo said.
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