As Super Bowl sunk in, Brent Celek just wanted to party with fans

As Super Bowl sunk in, Brent Celek just wanted to party with fans

MINNEAPOLIS — As the Eagles slowly made their way off the confetti-covered turf and away from the mass hysteria unfurling on the field at U.S. Bank Stadium, most turned their attention to the next celebration in the locker room. 

Brent Celek wanted a different one. 

The longest-tenured athlete in the city of Philadelphia could think about just one thing on Sunday night after becoming a Super Bowl champion. He wanted to share it with the people who have cheered his name, worn his jersey and watched him grow up. 

He just wanted to get back to Philly. 

"I'm so excited for my team, this organization, but man, I'm so excited for these fans," he said. "I can't wait to get back to them and party." 

Brent Celek is a Super Bowl champion. 

Brent Celek is a Super Bowl champion. 

Once just didn't seem enough. Not for this guy. Not for the guy who might embody what it means to be a Philadelphia athlete more than anyone in the city. Not for a guy who has missed one game in his 11-year playing career, and simply for a concussion that didn't heal in time for a Thursday night game. Not for a guy who has never once complained about taking a backseat to younger players at his position and who even went out of his way to laud those same players at his postgame Super Bowl press conference. 

Celek just gets Philly. And Philly gets Celek. 

"I'm sure they're all going nuts," Celek said. "I wish I was there hanging out with them because I know they're going crazy right now." 

Celek, who turned 33 recently, will get his chance to party with the fans this week. The city is holding a parade to end all parades on Thursday at 11 a.m. It'll go from South Philly near the sports complex and end, fittingly, on the Rocky Steps. It's going to be nuts and Celek knows that. Nay, he relishes that. 

These are his people. And he's going to throw back a few adult beverages with them. He's earned that right. For the last 11 years, he's put on his hard hat and gone to work for the Eagles. He was once a pass-catching tight end, who shifted roles into a primary blocker and is now really the team's third option at the position. He's handed it all with such undeniable grace because he cares about his teammates and his team. 

On Sunday night in front of a packed group of reporters, Celek said he knew in his first week in Philadelphia how much the Eagles meant to the people of the city. He said right from the beginning, he knew how much it would mean to win a Super Bowl with the Birds because fans hadn't ever had one. 

"Now they do!" Celek said. 

It means so much for Celek to play his entire career with the Birds. That's why it wouldn't be that outrageous to think this might be the perfect time for him to ride off into the sunset. Eleven years with the same team and cap it off with a Super Bowl ring. 

"This is the icing on the cake but we'll see," Celek said. "I'm not saying one way or the other what the deal is." 

A few weeks ago at the NovaCare Complex, Celek got in front of his teammates and spoke. He didn't tell them anything they didn't know. He just told them his truth, his story. He told them about how in his second year in the league, he made it to the NFC Championship Game and had waited nine years to get back. He told them that making it to these heights wasn't the goal. The goal was to bring the Lombardi Trophy back to Philly. 

Celek and the Eagles have done that. 

And on Thursday, he'll get to throw down with millions of fans who became family. 

"It's surreal. Especially in Philly," Celek said. "People who played in Philly and know our fans understand what it means to these people. I know what it means to them. This is legendary! This is legendary right here."

To be fair, so is Celek.

Greg Ward still learning wide receiver position after great college career at quarterback

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Greg Ward still learning wide receiver position after great college career at quarterback

Greg Ward threw more touchdown passes in college than Carson Wentz and had a higher career passer rating than Nick Foles. 

These days, his job is catching passes, not throwing them. 

It’s quite a transition from big-time NCAA Division 1 quarterback to NFL wide receiver, but at 5-foot-11, 185 pounds, the former Houston Cougar knows where his future is.

Ward spent all of last year on the Eagles’ practice squad, learning the nuances of a new position and figuring out how to think like a receiver instead of a quarterback. 

He looked surprisingly polished at wide out in training camp, caught nine passes for 63 yards in the preseason and then spent the season focusing on getting better.

“I still haven’t 100 percent gotten the position,” Ward said after a recent rookie camp practice. “I always feel like I can get better, always feel like I can learn something new, feel like there’ll always be something to improve on. 

“Last year was a big year for me. Just learning a new position, learning football period, learning from Alshon (Jeffery), Torrey (Smith) and Nelson (Agholor), it was a very important year for me.

“Just gathering every bit of information I could watching those guys practice and watching them in games and then learning how to apply what you’ve learned to your game.”

Ward never did get a chance to play, but he said he felt himself getting better as the year went along.

“Everybody wants to play,” said Ward, who led Houston to a Peach Bowl win over No. 9 Florida State in Atlanta at the end of his junior year. 

“You’re a competitor, that’s why we all do this. But I was humbled and thankful just to be on a Super Bowl team. Just to be in the NFL period. Some guys aren’t able to play football at all. I’m just grateful to be on a football team. 

“But this is not the end of my story. I am going to get out there and I am going to play.”

Ward was with the Eagles during their postseason run and he was there in Minneapolis for the Super Bowl.

He used every moment, every day, as an opportunity to improve. Even if nobody could see it happening.

“The biggest thing I learned was just being patient, just being humble,” he said. “Our team last year, there was nobody that was selfish. Nobody who thought they were bigger than anybody else. I learned patience and the importance of doing extra. Getting extra work, studying more, watching more film. That’s what it takes to win a championship.”

The Eagles have quite a crowd at wide receiver, with Jeffery, Agholor and Mack Hollins back, Wallace and Markus Wheaton in the fold and guys like Bryce Treggs, Shelton Gibson and Rashard Davis all also in the mix.

But Ward doesn’t concern himself with the numbers.

“The next step for me is to separate myself,” he said. "As a competitor, especially coming from being undrafted, you have to separate yourself. You have to be different. 

“You have to catch whoever’s eye it is, head coach, position coach, catch everybody’s eyes. They have to see value in you. That’s where I am right now. Trying to separate myself.”

How long will it take?

“I’m leaving that up to God,” he said. “I know I’m putting in the hard work and I know one day it will pay off. I know that day will come.”

Jay Ajayi's publicist denies Eagles' RB trashed an L.A. mansion

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Jay Ajayi's publicist denies Eagles' RB trashed an L.A. mansion

Eagles running back Jay Ajayi is strongly denying accusations made in a lawsuit that he trashed a Los Angeles house after the Super Bowl (see story)

The lawsuit, as reported by TMZ earlier this week, accuses Ajayi of throwing three parties at the L.A. mansion he was renting even after the owner told him not to. Ajayi is being charged $25,000 by the owner. 

Shortly after the story broke on Monday, a representative for Ajayi claimed the lawsuit was bogus. 

Now, we have an even stronger detail from Ajayi’s camp. 

Ajayi’s publicist Melanie Wadden told the Miami Herald that Ajayi didn’t throw any parties and caused no damage to the property. 

Additionally, Wadden denied the home owner’s claim that Ajayi pushed him in a menacing manner after confronting him.

“Jay was not involved in any physical altercations,” she said. 

Ajayi’s publicist also told the Herald that Ajayi was a guest and not the renter and the owner wanted the group to pay cash instead of through Airbnb. 

"The entire group voluntarily left the property several days early — no security or police were ever involved or on-site," Wadden said. "They filed a complaint against the owner through Airbnb back in February that included screenshots of the owner asking for cash and trying to communicate outside of their platform [against Airbnb policy]."

Ajayi, who came to the Eagles in the middle of last season in a trade, has one year left on his current contract.