He’s one of the greatest Eagles of all time. And Eagles fans can’t wait to get rid of him.
This is the strange reality of Jason Peters.
Peters, a nine-time Pro Bowler and a likely Hall of Famer, now finds himself the object of fan derision, thanks to a dreadful season in which he refused to change positions without a pay raise and then performed miserably when he did switch.
And as Peters plays out the final days of his 17th and likely final NFL season, his legacy has clearly been tarnished and it’s going to take time to undo the damage.
Peters is the greatest left tackle in Eagles history and one of the best in NFL history.
The only offensive tackles to make more Pro Bowls are Anthony Munoz, Jonathan Ogden, Willie Roaf and Joe Thomas, and all are Hall of Famers except Thomas, who isn’t eligible yet.
Even though he didn’t come to Philly until he was 27 and starting his seventh season, Peters made seven Pro Bowls as an Eagle, the same as Brian Dawkins and Reggie White. Only the peerless Chuck Bednarik made more.
He was so mighty, so powerful, so consistent, so dominating. It genuinely seemed like he always would be.
But J.P. was never quite the same after missing the second half of the 2017 Super Bowl season with a torn ACL. He was still pretty good in 2018 — still a top-10 left tackle — and even last year he wasn't bad, although more and more often he was unable to finish games because of nagging injuries.
The Eagles had drafted Andre Dillard in the first round so they cut ties with Peters, who went through free agency without a team.
Then Dillard got hurt, the Eagles brought Peters back, and it’s been a disaster.
It’s tough to watch an all-timer get pushed around and embarrassed by average pass rushers. To watch him unable to play left tackle or right guard with any sort of power or athleticism.
There are few things in sports sadder than an all-timer who stuck around too long.
Peters played his 219th game Sunday and it may turn out to be his last. He’s got a foot injury that will require offseason surgery, and Doug Pederson hinted Wednesday at changes on the offensive line.
Hopefully, Pederson shuts Peters down because at this point all he’s doing is damaging his legacy more and more every week.
But as poorly as J.P. has played, that legacy wouldn’t have taken as big a hit if it hadn’t been for his awkward contract gambit.
Peters has made more money than any player in Eagles history. Jeff Lurie has paid him over $100 million since 2009.
So when Peters refused to move from guard to tackle without a pay bump, it came across as petty and selfish. It’s fine to ask for more money. But you don’t make threats about where you're going to play.
That was the beginning of the end for Peters.
And then when he got the pay bump — holding up a cap-strapped team for $2 million more just to change positions — his play was so shockingly bad you couldn’t avoid the perception that he stole money.
Peters went from all-timer to embarrassment in a few years, and it’s sad to think that for a lot of people, their clearest memory of J.P. will be the hapless 2020 version and not the mighty superhero who made the Pro Bowl every healthy season from 2009 through 2016.
One day, Peters will return to the Linc and be inducted into the Eagles Hall of Fame, and the crowd will stand and cheer for him and remember how dominating he was, blocking the blind side for Donovan McNabb, Carson Wentz and everybody in between.
But it’s going to take some time to forget the way it ended. To forget the image of J.P. getting beat for sack after sack by guys you've never heard of and remember the all-time great he once was.
No matter how bad things have gotten, J.P. deserves it. The past year has been grim, but he was so good for so long that his legacy shouldn’t be tarnished forever.
But it is now. And it’s going to take a while for all of us to remember Peters as one of the greatest Eagles of all-time.
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