Eagles

Eagles

It was the first NFL game young Connor Barwin ever attended. Eagles at Lions at Ford Field in 2004.
 
Barwin grew up in Detroit and was a Lions fan as far back as he can remember. But as that game ended – and the Eagles began leaving the field after a 30-13 win early in the Super Bowl season – he found himself standing behind the Eagles’ bench.
 
“There were a bunch of us there, just yelling for guys to throw us something,” Barwin recalled after practice Thursday. “And I’m not making this up, but Chad Lewis threw me one of his elbow sleeves.
 
“I caught it, and I swear, I didn’t take that elbow sleeve off for about two years.”
 
Lewis was a three-time Pro Bowl pick as a special teamer and tight end who spent most of the 1997 through 2005 seasons with the Eagles.
 
Despite starting his career as an undrafted free agent, Lewis caught 229 passes for 2,361 yards and 23 touchdowns. He's in the top-20 in franchise history in both receptions and receiving touchdowns. His 38 postseason receptions are the most in franchise history.
 
Lewis is best remembered for his two touchdown catches in the 2004 NFC Championship Game, the second of which clinched the win over the Falcons and propelled the Eagles to their first Super Bowl in 24 years.
 
Lewis broke his ankle during that play and missed the Super Bowl, but the image of him smiling as he was being helped off the field is an unforgettable one for Eagles fans. Despite a devastating injury, all he could think about was that he had just helped his teammates reach a Super Bowl.
 
On Thursday, Lewis and his wife Michele and their kids were at the NovaCare visiting Eagles practice -- Lewis and head coach Doug Pederson were teammates in 1999. And a dozen years after his first “meeting” with Barwin, the two got to meet for real.
 
“I’ve heard so much about him and it was so great to actually meet him,” Lewis said. “He’s an unbelievable player and then you hear about all the work he does in the community, how he rides his bike to work, all the charity events he does – he’s just a great guy and really a tremendous representative of the Eagles.”
 
Just like Lewis was.
 
“I always threw my elbow sleeves and my gloves up to kids in the stands after every game,” Lewis said. “It’s so cool that he caught one of them when he was a kid. I love that. It means a lot that it's a guy who became an Eagle and plays the game the way he does and represents the city the way he does."
 
Barwin was 17 when he caught Lewis’s elbow sleeve, and 12 years later he finds himself practicing on the same fields that Lewis practiced on during his Eagles career.
 
“It was really cool to meet him and talk to him,” Barwin said. “That was my first NFL game and so to actually catch something from an NFL player, that was something you never forget.”