Shareef Miller not taking status as role model to Philly kids lightly

Shareef Miller not taking status as role model to Philly kids lightly

As far as inspirational inner city-to-the-NFL stories go, Shareef Miller’s meets all the typical criteria. 

He’s from a rough neighborhood, was raised in a single-parent household and suffered unfathomable loss at the hands of violence. As inspirational as his story is, it’s not all that uncommon in the NFL. He’s not even the only player in the Eagles’ locker room with a similar backstory. 

This difference is that Miller is from here. He’s ours. 

And now, after getting drafted by the Eagles — a moment he said was “surreal” — he feels an obligation to not just produce on the football field, but to also be an inspiration to kids who grew up where he grew up and who face the same struggles daily that he was able to overcome. 

“That’s really going to help my community,” Miller said on Saturday. “It’s really going to change a lot of things. It’s going to give these kids someone to look up to. That’s what it’s all about. I’m happy I’ve been put in this situation so I can shed light on the younger kids coming up in this generation.”

Miller, whom the Eagles drafted with the last pick in the fourth round on Friday, grew up in the Frankford section of the city. He went to Frankford High before transferring to George Washington High, a decision orchestrated by his mother that he said “changed his life.” 

But just before he went to Penn State, Miller’s older brother, Mikal, was shot and killed in 2015. The loss of his role model hit Miller hard. Hard enough that he even considered not going to Penn State. But his mother, Tekeya Cook, has been his rock. According to Miller, she kept him level-headed and pointed in the right direction. 

Mom is such a rock that during their celebration on Saturday — Miller and his family rented a loft in northeast Philly to watch the draft — she told her son that it’s now time to get to work. 

Miller will be on the field at the NovaCare Complex soon enough for rookie minicamp and then OTAs, but his work as a role model is already well underway. First, kids from his old neighborhood saw him go to a Division I school, but now they’re going to see him play in the NFL about 15 minutes away from their homes. 

Miller isn’t taking his role as an inspiration and mentor to local kids lightly. 

I’m definitely excited for this role because I’m all about these young kids in the inner city. A lot of times in our city, the opportunity is small and a lot of us don’t have anyone to look up to and we don’t have any hope. That’s why it’s easy for kids in the inner city to [turn to] violence. Now they have me – someone who came from where they came from. 

What more can they ask for? I’m going to be that voice for them and, you know, when I get myself together and situated, I’m definitely going to go back in my community and do whatever I can to help these kids reach their full potential. Go to school, get a great education, go to college and live out that dream. Whether it’s the NFL, NBA or whatever they want to be.

It can be tough for a professional athlete to play in their home city. There’s extra pressure and there’s a natural trap of falling in with the wrong people. A few years ago, when I profiled Brandon Graham, he told me one of the biggest realizations in his life was that when he went back to Detroit, he just couldn’t hang out with the same people like he used to. It’s tough, but he had to cut some destructive people out of his life. 

That might not be easy for Miller, who is just 22. But that process already started when he transferred high schools many years ago. He said he has a small group of people in his support system, people who want the best for him. 

Miller doesn’t think playing in his hometown will be a distraction. If anything, he sees it as a huge positive. There are a bunch of kids who are growing up just like him who will likely agree. 

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Eagles have reportedly hired Marquand Manuel as the new secondary coach

Eagles have reportedly hired Marquand Manuel as the new secondary coach

Marquand Manuel is the Eagles’ new secondary coach, according to a tweet by Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.

The 40-year-old Manuel replaces Cory Undlin, who had served in that role since 2015, first under Chip Kelly and the last four years under Doug Pederson. Undlin was named Lions defensive coordinator two weeks ago.

Manuel and Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz go back a ways. Manuel played for the Lions in 2009 when Schwartz was their head coach.

Manuel was not in the NFL this past year. He spent the previous four years under Dan Quinn with the Falcons, two years as secondary coach and two years as defensive coordinator before getting fired following the 2018 season.

The Falcons reached the Super Bowl in his second year in Atlanta, losing to the Patriots in Houston.

Before Atlanta, Manuel spent three years working under Quinn with the Seahawks, holding a variety of titles on the defensive staff.

Manuel, who played for Steve Spurrier at Florida, was the Bengals’ 6th-round pick in 2002 and spent eight years as a safety in the NFL with six different teams — the Bengals, Seahawks, Packers, Panthers, Broncos and Lions.

He played in 116 games, starting 58, with two interceptions and a pick-6 while he was with the Packers in 2006 off Jon Kitna of the Lions.

The Eagles also reportedly interviewed Browns defensive backs coach DeWayne Walker for the position.

The Eagles already have a safeties coach on the staff, former Eagle Tim Hauck. He was Pederson's teammate with the Eagles in 1999 and has been on Pederson's staff since 2016.

Quinn had this to say about Manuel on the Falcons’ web site back in 2018:

From the time I've met him from now, one thing that's cool to see that has stayed consistent is the energy and enthusiasm he has for players. He made the transition from player to coach really seamlessly because he knew the boundaries of coach, but he also stepped across to say, I can push you. That's not easy to do. He's always had mental quickness of a quarterback or someone who gets concepts really quickly. That transferred into this coaching fast. He can communicate concepts and ideas quickly to people on the run, in the moment, that's a really valuable asset as a coach.

The Eagles still have openings to replace the three assistant coaches Doug Pederson fired: offensive coordinator Mike Groh, wide receivers coach Carson Walch and defensive line coach Phillip Daniels.

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Eagles might lose executive Andrew Berry after all

Eagles might lose executive Andrew Berry after all

Just a few days ago, it seemed like the Eagles weren’t going to lose Vice President of Football Operations Andrew Berry because it looked like the Browns were going to hire someone else.

Well, that someone else has dropped out of the race.

Vikings assistant GM George Paton has taken himself out of the running to be the Browns’ next general manager, which means Berry is now the new favorite, according to Cleveland.com

This is certainly an interesting turn of events.

According to Cleveland.com, “Paton was reluctant to accept the initial interview because he assumed the job would go Berry.”

Now it might.

It would have made plenty of sense for the Browns to hire Paton, who has a long-standing relationship with new head coach Kevin Stefanski from their time together in Minnesota. But according to reports over the past few weeks, it seems like Berry has been a favorite of ownership and the front office.

While Berry and Stefanski have never worked together, they did get to know each other during the coaching search in Cleveland a year ago. After that search, the Browns hired Freddie Kitchens and Berry left for Philly. But now, Berry and Stefanski might actually get a chance to work with one another.

The Harvard-educated Berry, 32, was with the Browns from 2016-18 as their Vice President of Player Personnel before he joined the Eagles last season in a role they created for him. Berry initially came up in the Colts franchise, first as a scouting assistant and finally as a pro scouting coordinator. He’s been a quick-riser in the NFL world.

Earlier this offseason, the Eagles reportedly denied a request from the Panthers to interview Berry for a Vice President job. The reasoning from the Eagles was that it wasn’t a general manager position and he wouldn’t have had final say on personnel matters.

Final say is something Berry will likely never have here in Philadelphia. Despite a few missteps in recent years, Howie Roseman has pretty solid job security and he isn’t going anywhere. If Berry is going to become a GM, it’s going to be in another city. And it seems like that day might be coming soon.

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