Nobody gets Eagles fans quite like Duce Staley

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Nobody gets Eagles fans quite like Duce Staley

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Is there anybody more Philly than Duce Staley? Is there anybody who gets the city better than Duce? Is there anybody who understands what is happening right now like Duce?

There's not.

Staley is the only person in franchise history to spend seven or more years with the Eagles as both a player and a coach, and although his official job title right now is running backs coach, he sees another aspect of his job as explaining to anyone who will listen exactly how badly the city of Philadelphia wants this. How badly the city of Philadelphia needs this.

"I tell these young players all the time," Staley said Wednesday. "I tell them, 'You don't understand the passion and love that's in this city if we bring home the Super Bowl. You won't understand the parade. You won't understand the tears that they will shed. The tears of joy. Tears of memories, good and bad. You won't understand it.' 

"It's our job to deliver a championship to this city so they can see."

Staley has spent 14 of the last 20 years with the Eagles, 1997 through 2003 as a tough, physical running back who ran for 1,000 yards three times, and 2011 through 2017 as a running backs coach under three head coaches.

He grew up in West Columbia, S.C., and played for the nearby University of South Carolina before coming to Philly. He said it didn't take long to realize how special Eagles fans were and how special Philadelphia was as a football town.

"My first year," he said. "Training camp. Coming from the south, where football was king, you know about all the traditions down there and the toughness of the SEC and all that and then all of a sudden you go north and you hear about Philadelphia Eagles fans and you hear stories from way back in the day when they played Dallas and those fans rocking the bus.

"All of a sudden, you're inside the Vet and you're playing Dallas and they're introducing the team and I'll never forget this, they introduce ... 'MICHAEL IRVIN ..." and all of a sudden you hear all the fans yelling, "SUCKKKKKKKS,' and then you hear, 'EMMITT SMITH!' … 'SUCKSSSSSSSS.' And then they announce the coach and you hear, 'REALLY SUCKSSSSSSS!' and I'm like, 'Oh my God, this is real.' 

"I love those guys."

The Eagles have never won a Super Bowl, but they'll get their chance Sunday when they face the Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

Duce said he's always giving the young players on the team history lessons about the Eagles and the powerful bond between long-time Philadelphians and the team that was founded in 1933 by Bert Bell and Lud Wray.

"I educate them," he said. "There are a lot of people who still remember the 1960 team, but that wasn't even a Super Bowl. It was an NFL Championship. We haven't won a Super Bowl, so I have that conversation with them. 

"I talk about my playing days, when we got close but never got over the top. I share stories with them. I talk about how hard it is to get here, but now that you're here, what are you going to do? What are you going to do now that you're here? That's the question. That's what it's about. 

"Every time you lace 'em up and put your helmet on, it's the same game. Now take that history of never having a Super Bowl and play with that passion, play with that fury, and leave everything on the field."

Listening to Staley speak, it's easy to forget he wasn't born and raised here. 

But since his rookie year in 1997, there's been a powerful bond between him and Eagles fans, probably because of his no-frills, straight-ahead, physical style of running. 

He played football exactly the way Eagles fans want someone to play the game, and now he wants nothing more than to be part of the group that ends those 56 years of frustration.

"This great city deserves a championship," Staley said. "These fans deserve it.

"You're talking about fans who've been passionate dating way back. It's not like they wake up and all of a sudden they decide to be Eagles fans. It's in their blood. I mean, this is through pedigree. These guys — and women — are born into this Eagles family. 

"It's similar to back in the 1970s with the Steelers. A lot of those fans, their parents made them Steelers fans. Little kids wearing Steelers jerseys before they can talk. Eagles fans are the same way. They were born into that great Eagle family. 

"Their parents, their grandparents, were loyal fans and now they pass it on to their kids and they pass it on to their kids and then they pick up the flag and wave it."

Staley admitted he's daydreamed about what it would be like if the Eagles did finally win a Super Bowl.

What would it mean to the city? Even Duce is at a loss for words.

"It's going to be a lot of tears being shed," Staley said. "Tears of joy. Tears of finally. That big deep breath that you take after finally doing it, finally achieving it. 

"I don't think it's even fair for me to answer it. That's up to those long-time fans who've been out there supporting this team since forever, for a lot longer than I've been around. 

"Fans whose families have had family members passed away buried in Eagles stuff. Who had Eagles funerals.  

"That's a question for the older fans who've been through the ups and downs with this team, who lived through the ups and downs, different coaches, different teams. I don't think words can even describe it."

Eagles QB Nick Foles reportedly OK after leaving game with shoulder injury

Eagles QB Nick Foles reportedly OK after leaving game with shoulder injury

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles will be OK after leaving Thursday’s preseason loss to the Patriots, according to a report Friday.

“After tests,” the Super Bowl LII MVP is not expected to be out long, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Foles, who left the game early in the second quarter after a strip sack, didn’t have a great outing: 3 of 9 for 44 yards. But more important than anything, he appears to be healthy after a scare.

After the game, Foles said he was “optimistic” about the injury.

“It’s just the shoulder,” Foles said. “It sort of got jarred in a funny way as I was following through. It feels good. We’ll check it out tomorrow more thoroughly.”

Foles didn’t return to the game, but he also never left the sideline, receiving treatment on what the team called a shoulder strain.

With the opener still weeks away, Foles didn’t want to speculate on his status for Week 1, but didn’t sound like a guy that planned to miss much time.

“I’m not even going to go there,” Foles said. “We’re just going to live in the moment and sort of go day to day. I’m going to do everything I can to get back on the field and hopefully practice the first day we get back practicing and be ready to roll.”

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Former Eagles first-round bust Marcus Smith released by Seahawks

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Former Eagles first-round bust Marcus Smith released by Seahawks

Marcus Smith, the Eagles’ first-round pick in 2014, was released by the Seahawks Friday, the second straight summer he’s been cut.

With just 6 1/2 sacks in 51 career games over four seasons, Smith is among the biggest first-round busts in recent NFL history.

The Eagles released Smith last July 26, and he signed with the Seahawks two days later. He played in 14 games for Seattle a year ago, tying his career high with 2 1/2 sacks.

Smith had missed practice the last two days with what coach Pete Carroll said was a personal issue.

In three years with the Eagles, the 26th pick in the 2014 draft recorded 4.0 sacks.

Some 174 players have recorded more sacks than Smith since opening day of 2014.

Smith is part of a remarkable trio of first-round defensive end busts the Eagles have drafted in the last couple decades.

Jon Harris, the 25th pick in 1997, had two career sacks. Jerome McDougle, the 15th pick in 2003, had three career sacks. And Smith has 6 1/2.

Among defensive ends drafted in the first round during the 18-year span from 1997 through 2014, Harris, McDougle and Smith have the 4th, 6th and 16th-fewest sacks.

Smith, now 26, was due an $800,000 base salary this year if he made the Seahawks’ roster. They’re on the hook for a $400,000 signing bonus they gave him in March and will now have to carry that in dead money.

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