PHOENIX — Nick Sirianni had a plan.
The Eagles’ head coach puts a lot of thought into the messages he delivers to his team and he spent plenty of time formulating a plan for this moment, the night before the Super Bowl. And he had something prepared.
He scrapped it.
Instead, when the Eagles meet tonight, the night before Super Bowl LVII, Sirianni will open the floor. Anyone who has something to say to the entire team can say it.
Sirianni said that’s what his mentor Larry Kehres would do before his Mount Union teams would play in the Stagg Bowl (Division III championship). Those moments stuck with Sirianni.
“I always thought that was really powerful when all the guys could get up and say whatever was on their heart to say,” Sirianni said on Thursday. “So we’ll kind of treat it that way.”
The Eagles aren’t limited in their options. There are plenty of veterans and even some younger players who would be worth hearing from the night before the biggest game of their lives.
A couple players seem very likely to address the entire group.
“I’m always up for the challenge of talking to the team,” said Brandon Graham, the longest-tenured player on the roster. “I know a lot of guys respect what I have to say so I don’t shy away from it. Even if it’s just something 2 seconds, I’m definitely going to have an input, let them know, hey, don’t worry about nothing you can’t control, put a great week in and just make sure you go out there and go all-out now that you done put the work in.”
His longtime teammate Fletcher Cox, who arrived two years after Graham in 2012, is also prepared to address the team.
Cox has taken his role as a captain very seriously and, like Graham, he won a Super Bowl with the Eagles in 2017.
“I haven’t really thought about what I’ll say to the team yet,” Cox said. “But obviously, I’ll have to keep it short because if someone else wants to speak, I can’t be too long with it. I actually might go last. Honestly, believe it or not, a lot of guys like to hear me speak. I might go last or I think he wanted me to go first. Whichever one he wants, I’ll do. I haven’t really thought about it but it’s going to be pretty good.”
Cox might give some thought to what he’ll say but not too much. He wants it to come from the heart.
And that’s the key for a lot of players when it comes to these things. It’s fine for Sirianni to really have a plan for talking to his team as the head coach. But when it’s the players’ turn to speak, it means more when it’s genuine and from the heart.
Darius Slay became a first-time captain in 2022 and it meant the world to him. He teared up when he found out before the season. He’s spoken to the entire team before and his message really seemed to resonate, even if he was “nervous as hell” doing it.
“I’m pretty sure he’ll probably give me the opportunity to talk in front of the team,” Slay said. “I’m glad you kind of prepared me for that early in case he calls my name or anything. I gotta get my mind right. Even though I talk from the heart, but it be scary.
“That’s probably my most scariest thing is to talk in front of the team because I’m like a goofy guy. My heart gets to racing, my mouth gets dry and I get a little nervous because I really talk from the heart and I’m really meaning what I be saying and it be real genuine. So I be getting real emotional when it come down to that because I love this game, I love this team. So I gotta get my mind right in case I get called up.”
A.J. Brown isn’t a captain like those other guys but his words carry weight too. He’s in his first year with the Eagles and has a chance to cap off his incredible season with a championship. Brown isn’t sure whether or not he’ll speak, it’ll really just depend on how he feels in the moment.
Either way, Brown said he’s looking forward to hearing those who do take the floor.
And then there’s Jason Kelce. An unquestioned leader on the team. Like Brown, he’s not sure.
“I don’t know. I’ll make that a game-time decision,” Kelce said. “I haven’t spoke this year yet. Well, I do breakdowns and stuff like that but in terms of talking in front of a team meeting. If you feel like there’s a time to talk, you talk. If not, you don’t really need to. But, yeah, we’ll see.”
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