A number of players on the Eagles have military ties. Wide receiver Hank Baskett grew up in a military family and guard Stacy Andrews' brother, Derrick, recently finished a tour of duty in Kuwait are just a couple of examples.
It's rare in this day and age to have a player who actually served in the Armed Forces. The Eagles have one of those players in wide receiver Chad Hall, who put his NFL career on hold to fulfill his two-year commitment to the Air Force. A second lieutenant at Hill Air Force Base in Utah, Hall was a maintenance officer responsible for repairing F-16s until his duty was fulfilled this past week.
Signed by the Eagles in March, Hall had been traveling back and forth to Utah on weekends to complete his service.
"I love what I did and I'm helping out with the recruiting squadron here going out and talking to people," Hall said. "Anything I can help with, I'm still doing. It was always my dream to serve my country. I've always wanted to play football, so now I'm taking advantage of doing both when I can."
Just because he has fulfilled his commitment to the Air Force, Hall isn't done doing double duty. Not only is he learning the wide receiver position with the Eagles, Hall is also involved at the running back position as well. In fact, Hall has spent extra time on the practice fields working out with rookie quarterback Mike Kafka to aid in the process.
"It's something I want. Mentally, you can handle that in your off time. That's personal," Hall said. "I want to have every opportunity I can at every position. I have to be mentally sharp. That's all the time off the practice field. That's where you get ahead of people."
Hall was a first-team all-Mountain West selection in 2007 as he led the Falcons in rushing (1,478 yards), receiving yards (524) and all-purpose yards (2,683) with 16 touchdowns (15 rushing, one receiving). He was the Mountain West Conference's offensive player of the year and was third in the nation in average all-purpose yards (208.7 per game).
Two things kept Hall from getting his name called on draft weekend. Teams were aware of his two-year service commitment. The other was his 5-8, 187-pound frame.
"It's just something I work through. It's not in my head," Hall said. "I always hear it from other people, but it's never on my mind."
When asked which player he has been compared to, Hall said that New England's Wes Welker was the name people said the most. Hall has made his share of eye-popping plays during the spring practices, but the reality of what's at stake hit home when his roommate Durant Brooks was released last week.
"It was tough because we became good friends in the last two-and-a-half months," Hall said. "You can get a phone call at anytime. That was something to see for sure."
With the ability to run, catch and return, Hall will have every chance to make the 53-man roster. One thing is for certain. No one is going to outwork this serviceman along the way.
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 8:45 a.m., May 31