Every moment from the night – the reps taken on special teams and in the defense, the empty stands, the feeling of running in "quicksand" after making an interception and returning it for a touchdown, and then, in the locker room in front of the entire team, given the opportunity to break down the postgame huddle – linebacker Alex Singleton has replayed them in his mind many times. He's been in professional football since 2015, has been on the transactions list "more times than I can remember," and freely admits that what happened on Sunday night at Levi's Stadium against the San Francisco 49ers was a dream come true.
You wonder, maybe, what happens after a player makes a big play on a national stage and then is thrust into the media spotlight? We see it when players like Carson Wentz and Fletcher Cox and the stars of the sport settle in so comfortably in those moments. It comes, honestly, with the territory. They make plays, they do the interviews, they bask in the light, and then they move on. Wash, rinse, repeat.
For a guy like Alex Singleton, it's a moment that will resonate far beyond his NFL playing days.
"It's one of those things you dream about your whole life," Singleton said on Tuesday morning. "It was for my family. The feeling of 'to give it back to them.' That's the first thing I thought when I scored. They have supported me every step of the way. It's been a long journey and my family, my parents, I owe them everything. I call my family after every game on Facetime. If I make a tackle, it's cool to relive that with them. I'll get to my phone after a game and I'll get a text from my mom about a play.
"This time, it was different.
"I didn't know Instagram worked the way it does with the way the messages were coming in. I have a lot of friends from high school that I didn't know I still had their numbers. It was definitely interesting."
Just a little bit. Singleton hasn't even had a chance to reach back to every friend he has, every friend he didn't know he had, and every person who celebrated the big moment with him. He wants everybody to know that he says a big, gigantic "thank you" and "it means a lot to me and I will never be able to say 'Thank you' to all of those people,' but, you know, there's a lot going on here. Singleton scored the touchdown and ran over with his teammates to the Fan Cam in the opposite corner of the end zone and, still clutching the football, went to the sidelines. Not until the equipment staff pried the football from his clutches did he move on from the moment.
See, Singleton had to play on the kickoff team, and, you know, life moves quickly in the NFL. It's on to the next play, the next moment, the next day of practice, the next game.
"This is a what-have-you-done-lately league," said Singleton, who signed with Seattle as an undrafted free agent in 2015 and was on practice squads with New England, Seattle again, and Minnesota before playing three seasons in the CFL and taking his game up a notch. He joined the Eagles when he signed a futures contract in January 2019 and lasted until the roster cutdown to 53 players. Then he was on the practice squad until last October when he was promoted to the active roster. Singleton has been on the 53 ever since. "You don't take anything for granted. You make a play and that's great. You feel like you're contributing to the team winning. You feel like you have earned some respect."
The Eagles won the game, Singleton did a Zoom interview with reporters, finished getting dressed, and boarded the team buses to head to the airport to fly back to Philadelphia. He didn't get much sleep on the flight. The team landed at 7:30 AM. Everyone has been trying to catch up on the lost time since. Singleton hasn't slept much at all since Sunday.
"I wouldn't say it's Cloud 9 … it's surreal. I don't know how to explain it," Singleton said. "It's like, I was in position to do something that I always knew that I could do, but also the happiest I've been and also how happy my family is. It's an experience I won't realize until I'm 50, 60, 70 years old. When someone brings it up, I'm going to be like, 'Yeah, that's something that happened in my life.' To reach this moment, it's everything I've worked for since I was 3 years old. I owe every bit of it to my family and the support they've given me, the belief they've had in me.
"In my head, I want to play football. Football is just the thing I have put every egg in the basket for. I'm still doing it. My parents still let me live at home in the offseason and they would support me through whatever I chose in life and they're my backbone. They're my spine. They'll let me do whatever I want as long as I'm 100 percent in."
As Singleton is speaking, it's only been about 36 hours since the biggest moment of his professional life. The players report back to the NovaCare Complex on Wednesday and Singleton knows he has to live in the moment. The 3-0 Pittsburgh Steelers await on Sunday. Singleton may have a larger role in the defense with T.J. Edwards rehabbing a hamstring injury.
Singleton knows the deal. He has no job security. That's the way it is for a guy who has been cut and released and signed to practice squads 15 times, whose mother has waited for him at the Los Angeles International Airport to take her son home through the horrible Los Angeles traffic, another dream shattered and another opportunity on the horizon, providing love and support all the way.
"It's on to the Steelers, honestly. It's time to go," he said. "We haven't had meetings on the Steelers yet. I've done this long enough to know that it's not a, 'Hey, you had a pick-six this game.' It was Week 4. I understand that there's a Week 5. I'm going to show up tomorrow and I'm going to be at my best for practice, I'm going to be running scout cards, I'm going to take every rep they give me on defense, and I'm going to be on Period 1 on punt, and I'm going to work as hard as I can to perfect what I do on this team.
"If one play defines your career, you're not a good or great player. I want to be good or great on every single play that I play, so it's back to square one on Wednesday like it is every other week."