On Feb. 24, Moorestown, New Jersey, held “Doug Pederson Day” to honor the Super Bowl-winning head coach, one of the town’s most famous residents.
It’s estimated that a couple thousand people showed up on the lawn of the Moorestown Community House to celebrate Pederson’s big win in Super Bowl LII. For a guy who was once loathed as a player and doubted as a coaching hire, to become this revered is pretty incredible.
It’s also the type of attention that would change a lot of men. It’s the type of attention that would swell the heads of most.
"Hopefully, one of the things you guys have seen and noticed from me is that I'm going to be the same,” Pederson said to a group of reporters earlier this offseason. “I don't want [success] to ever change me. I don't want it to define me.”
This, more than anything, is Doug Pederson. He’s genuine, he’s real, he’s dependable, he’s the same guy today that he’ll be tomorrow. Sure, he’s aggressive as a play-caller and he’s shown himself to be a brilliant offensive mind, but that’s not why his players love him.
This is why his players love him.
And, boy, do they love him.
Wanna know how much this team loves Doug Pederson?— Dave Zangaro (@DZangaroNBCS) June 15, 2018
The entire #Eagles team gave him a standing ovation when he got his ring box.
Pederson might aim to stay the same, but the world around him has certainly changed. There’s no arguing that. He went from an afterthought in the NFL to becoming one of the most revered coaches in the league. He went from being ignored to being copied and it happened in a pretty short timespan.
I remember running into Pederson at the owners meetings in late March the night before an hour-long sit-down breakfast with reporters. Pederson was gracious enough to chat with me for a while, even while knowing he’d be stuck with me for 60 minutes the next day. The one thing that struck me that night was that Pederson was the big man on campus. While me and Pederson and another reporter chatted for about 10-15 minutes, I couldn’t help but notice how many other coaches and front office men came to congratulate him. I could tell Pederson was proud, but he wasn’t boastful. That’s not his way.
Recently, Pederson said he feels respect from the NFL coaching fraternity and he appreciates it.
But ask him about being considered one of the best coaches in the NFL and Pederson gets a little uncomfortable.
“I don’t think about it. I try not to,” Pederson said just before these past spring practices wrapped up. “I don’t want to get there. That is probably not my personality. I try to just stay in this moment, today. I think that is for sports writers to talk about and put me in that spotlight. And that is fine. That is great. But again, when it is all said and done, I think for me it is about focusing on today and the team, and these next three practices and training camp.
“Now if I’m sitting at home and there is nothing else to do? You kind of sit back, my wife and I might have a conversation like, ‘Man, this is kind of cool.’ It is cool to be mentioned that way. For a guy that, you know, didn’t have probably a lot of support coming into this job initially. To be on the other end of that spectrum is cool. But I know what it took for me to get here. And I have to continue that for myself.”
I always come back to that emotional intelligence Jeff Lurie mentioned after he fired Chip Kelly. We laughed at Lurie then, but it turns out he was right. That’s an incredibly important part of who Pederson is as a person.
And it’s extremely good news for the Eagles that it doesn’t seem like Pederson is going to change.
Pederson said he doesn’t want his success to define him. That’s a tough ask, because his win-loss record and that Super Bowl ring are what most fans will always remember him by. But if Pederson had his way, how would he be remembered?
What does he think defines him?
“I think the things that can define me is that I’m going to be honest, I’m going to be transparent, I’m going to be as open as I can,” Pederson said. “I’m sort of a father figure to a lot of these players. Kind of what you see is what you get. There’s no fluff anywhere. I don’t try to come across that way, and I basically just want to do my job. That’s what I was hired to do and that’s what I want to do is coach football. I’m obviously a spiritual man and hopefully that comes out sometimes.
“It comes out with the players, too, and I think the team can reflect the coach’s personality and my personality and hopefully that’s been evident the last couple years. And I think those are some things that define who I am and what I’ve done.”