Miles Sanders opens up about Duce Staley: 'I never had that father figure'

Miles Sanders opens up about Duce Staley: 'I never had that father figure'

It’s been clear for a while just how special the relationship is between Miles Sanders and Duce Staley.

Two Eagles second-round running backs, separated by 22 years, one the teacher, one the student.

Sanders? We’re seeing him blossom into a superstar right in front of our eyes.

And Sunday evening, after his second straight monster game, Sanders opened up about how much Staley has meant to him not just as a coach but as a mentor.

“I never had that father figure in my life,” Sanders said. “Duce looks at me like I’m his little brother. I never had that. I never had anybody to really push me. I always had my mom. Moms can’t really do both when it comes to stuff like that. To have someone like Duce pushing me and believing in me and knowing what I can do, that’s meant a lot. Especially because he went through the same stuff I went through.”

Sanders on Sunday became the first Eagle rookie in 62 years with 75 yards both rushing and receiving in the Eagles’ massive win over the Cowboys.

He increased his season total to 1,276 scrimmage yards, becoming only the eighth rookie in NFL history with 750 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards.

A rookie’s relationship with his position coach is huge, and Staley and Sanders first bonded back in February.

“It happened right away,” Sanders said. “When we met at the Combine, I knew. I already knew. That’s the type of coach I want.”

Staley wanted the Eagles to draft Sanders from the get-go, and as soon as they did he began working Sanders harder than he’s ever worked.

Staley is a tough coach, and that’s exactly what Sanders needed, exactly what he wanted.

“I’ve got so much respect for him and I appreciate him so much for just pushing me,” Sanders said. “I’m playing my best football right now. I still have a long way to go but he’s definitely bringing a lot out of me and I appreciate him so much for that.”

I asked Sanders if he was concerned when he first started working with the hard-driving Staley if it would be too much, if he would be too demanding.

His answer was perfect: “Ain’t no such thing as working too hard.”

Sanders said he feels like Staley has helped him the most as a runner, which is surprising considering how gifted a receiver Staley was and how far Sanders has come in that area.

“Running game,” he said. “Definitely running game. I was struggling with that a lot and just kept grinding, man.”

After averaging 3.5 yards per carry in his first seven games, Sanders is averaging 5.1 the last eight, 4th-highest in the league during that span.

He’s the only player in the NFL with at least four runs and four receptions of 30 yards.

It’s been a historic season for Sanders, and Staley has been there every step of the way.

“There’s a lot of good running back coaches,” Sanders said. “But Duce, I don’t think people don’t know how good a teacher he is.”

Staley was one heck of a player with the Eagles. He’s still 5th in franchise history in rushing, 16 years after he last played here.

Turns out he may be even a better coach.

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Darius Slay explains why he’s wearing 24 to honor Kobe Bryant

Darius Slay explains why he’s wearing 24 to honor Kobe Bryant

You can still hear the giddiness in Darius Slay’s voice when he talks about Dec. 6, 2015. 

That was a special day for the Eagles’ new cornerback. 

That was the day he met the Kobe Bryant. 

The meeting between the late NBA superstar and the then-third-year NFL pro came after a Lakers-Pistons game at The Palace of Auburn Hills during the 2015 season. It’s a day and a moment Slay will never forget, getting the chance to meet his favorite basketball player and a personal idol. 

And now with the Eagles, Slay will honor Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, by wearing the No. 24 for the football team Bryant loved. 

“I was surprised that he even knew me,” Slay said. “I don’t know if the people told him, ‘You got Darius Slay out there waiting on you from the Detroit Lions’ or gave him a pre-talk about me or something. I don’t know. 

“But the fact that he came around the corner and (there) was like 20 to 30 reporters waiting on him, he kind of walked past all the reporters, everybody and came directly to me, like, ‘What’s up Slay? I love your game, man.’ He was talking about my style of play and we just chopped it up for a minute.”

Slay said he was so in shock that day he barely had any words to speak but he was able to hold a short conversation. Then Slay got Kobe’s autograph and they took a few photos together, including this one: 

Slay previously wore No. 23 in Detroit but that number is occupied by Rodney McLeod with the Eagles. And Jordan Howard, who wore 24 last year, left for Miami as a free agent. So things lined up perfectly for Slay to take the second of Kobe’s two retired numbers. 

When Bryant died in January, it became even more apparent how much he meant to his fellow athletes. When Bryant visited the Eagles in LA during the 2017 season, there was a similar giddiness with them. There’s a really good chance that Bryant was your favorite athlete’s favorite athlete. 

“I just love how much he competed,” Slay said. “He was a true competitor. He worked on his craft. I believe the work you put in is [what] you get out of it.” 

Slay said he also really admired that Bryant was always willing to seek out answers from others, most notably Michael Jordan. Even though Bryant was constantly being compared to Jordan, he was never hesitant to pick Jordan’s brain. 

Similarly, Slay said he loves talking to other cornerbacks and asking advice. He doesn’t care who that cornerback is; if he has a question about their technique or facing a particular receiver, he’s going to ask. 

“It’s just the part about doing anything and be willing to do anything to be good and be great,” Slay said. “That’s why I took out a lot of stuff that he did and that’s what I’ll continue to keep doing.”

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5-year-old Eagles impersonator gets Boston Scott's stamp of approval

USA Today Sports Images/@SirRobin83/Twitter

5-year-old Eagles impersonator gets Boston Scott's stamp of approval

With professional sports on pause around the world, fans are looking for anything - video games, simulations, classic games - to satisfy that live sports itch.

We may have found the ultimate placeholder: a five-year-old imitating Boston Scott's infamous spin-o-rama.

On Saturday afternoon, Twitter user Robin Stanley tagged Scott in a quick video of his son, Beckett, pretending to be the Eagles running back:

I mean, c'mon: the likeness to Scott's spin move against the Giants is kind of uncanny.

In case you need to jog your memory, here is Scott's spin:

Scott, of course, made fun of himself for the move at the time, admitting that when he saw the clip after the game, it "looked pretty silly".

I'd say Beckett's spin had a little more swag.

Stanley's dad, a Philly native, told NBC Sports Philadelphia his son was expecting to play his first season of flag football this spring down in Nashville, but the league was postponed because of social distancing mandates, so he's making do.

On Saturday, Scott saw Stanley's video and gave the little man a nod of approval:

That's just good, clean fun. Thank you, Beckett, for the sports-related smile.

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