Haloti Ngata

Haloti Ngata is now apparently going to play rugby

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Haloti Ngata is now apparently going to play rugby

Haloti Ngata’s retirement is turning out to be much more exciting than the year he spent with the Eagles. 

First, the 35-year-old officially retired from the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro and now he’s apparently going to play rugby. 

The former NFL All-Pro announced that he’s signed a contract with the Utah Warriors and this is no April Fools joke. The Warriors officially announced that they signed Ngata and he’ll begin with the Warriors immediately. He held up a sign saying, “I’m Going Back to Rugby” from Utah’s Ensign Peak. If Ngata needs to make announcements, he does it from mountaintops. 

Anyway, Ngata apparently played high school rugby in Salt Lake City, so he’s going back to a sport with which he has plenty of familiarity. 

The Utah Warriors have a home game this Friday against the Seattle Seawolves, which is about the best team name I have ever heard. 

I wanted to move my family back to Utah but do not want to stop competing and want to bring another rugby championship home to Utah. The Warriors have done an amazing job in bringing professional rugby to Utah and the Warriors fan base is loud and loyal” Ngata continued. “Whether its the Washington Huskies, the Seattle Seahawks, or now the Seattle Seawolves, I’ve never been fond of teams from Seattle.

Ngata spent just one season with the Eagles, but spent 13 in the NFL and was a five-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro. 

Ngata is expected to start for the Warriors on Friday night, according to the release. 

My favorite quote (by far) from the release comes from Warriors forwards coach Stevie Scott: 

“Being from Scotland, I don’t know a thing about American Football or the NFL but if he is ready to play rugby again, and can help us scrum our way to victory, and does what I say then I am happy to have him on our pitch. I understand he’s about 18 stones, that should be plenty to scare the other teams not to mention his athletic prowess.”

Exactly.

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Former Eagles DT Haloti Ngata retires in epic way

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Former Eagles DT Haloti Ngata retires in epic way

It was unlikely he was going to return to the Eagles, but defensive tackle Haloti Ngata has officially retired. 

And he did it in a pretty cool way. 

That’s Ngata, 35, on top of Mount Kilimanjaro recently. He climbed Africa’s tallest mountain as a part of Chris Long’s Conquering Kili initiative. 

Ngata played 13 years in the NFL after being taken in the first round in the 2006 draft. Eagles fans unfortunately saw him at the very tail end of his career. 

Ngata played just one season with the Eagles and probably wasn’t worth the $3 million he was paid. But he was once a great defensive lineman. 

Before his one season in Philly and before his three years in Detroit, Ngata played nine seasons in Baltimore and was a five-time Pro Bowler, two-time All-Pro. 

At around 350 pounds, Ngata was never a flashy player, but was great inside along the line of scrimmage. His five Pro Bowls came in five seasons, from 2009-2013. He was also a Super Bowl champion in 2012. Ngata’s Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII. 

Ngata likely never figured into the Eagles’ plans in 2019, even if he hadn’t retired. He played better down the stretch last season, but still wasn’t very good. The Eagles also signed Malik Jackson from Jacksonville. He’ll be the new starter and now they’ll still need to find some more defensive tackle depth. 

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Eagles' defensive line gets a lift from veteran Haloti Ngata

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Eagles' defensive line gets a lift from veteran Haloti Ngata

The Eagles have gotten some help down the stretch from an unexpected source.

A 34-year-old defensive tackle who missed a month of the season with a calf injury and whose playing time had been dwindling until a few weeks ago.

Remember Haloti Ngata?

He’s actually been showing up.

I think you’re right" Jim Schwartz said. "He went through a span in the middle of the season where he was injured, missed a couple games with that calf muscle. Even when he came back, he wasn't moving quite the way he can. He battled through that, and I think you're seeing him get out on the other side of that.

Ngata is in his 13th NFL season, his first with the Eagles. And after a lackluster preseason and an uneventful first few games, he sat out the Vikings, Giants and Panthers games with that calf injury.

When he returned, he wasn’t effective.

With Tim Jernigan out and Ngata sidelined, the Eagles used two practice squad defensive tackles, Treyvon Hester and Bruce Hector, opposite Fletcher Cox.

There are a lot of reasons the Eagles surged at the end of the season to make the playoffs, and Ngata’s resurgence is one of them.

It took most of the season, but we can finally see why the Eagles acquired Ngata this offseason. 

Schwartz thinks it’s nothing more than Ngata just finally getting healthy.

“I don't know that it's been a big change or resurgence for him,” he said. “He's just back healthy. It's hard for anybody to do anything when they're (hurt). I mean, he was trying his very best, but if your calf is not firing it's hard to move. Defensive tackles in this day and age need to move. They just can't be statues.”

The Eagles could sure use a disruptive Ngata in the playoffs. He’s a playoff-savvy guy with a Super Bowl ring from the 2012 season with the Ravens and eight trips to the postseason in all in his first 12 pro seasons.

No active NFL defensive lineman has played as many postseason games as Ngata:

17 … Haloti Ngata
13 … Ricky Jean-Francois
12 … Calais Campbell
11 … Brandon Mebane
11 … Julius Peppers
10 … Michael Bennett
10 … Mike Daniels
10 … Malik Jackson

His increased production the last few weeks is one of the reasons the Eagles have been so much better against the run.

They’re allowing 89 yards per game during the 5-1 stretch after giving up 136 per game the previous five, something Schwartz took note of.

Whether it's been a tackle for a loss or pressure, the last couple weeks he's made a couple plays for us that have had a big impact on the game.

The Eagles will need the 340-pound Ngata Sunday against a Bears team that loves to run the football — 29½ times per game.

Jernigan is finally back playing, too, so Schwartz actually has a nice interior rotation, with Cox, Ngata, Jernigan and Hester, who has been playing well in limited reps.

“He's also a little bit like Haloti,” Schwartz said of Jernigan. “He's shown us flashes of the old Timmy. As he gets a little bit more practice and gets a little bit more reps, we look forward to more of that.”

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