The doors at the NovaCare Complex opened on Tuesday and in came the football team to do football things on a designated Phase 2 day of Organized Team Activities: They learned in the classroom. They conditioned. They did some light stuff on the field. In other words, the Eagles are back to the new normal in so many ways.
Twenty-four hours earlier, plans were being made to visit the White House, part of the tradition of being the Super Bowl champions. Many weeks and hours were spent honing logistics and arranging the bus-to-train-to-bus-to-White House trip and return to Philadelphia, but then plans changed on Monday night and the Eagles, honestly, brushed it all off and got back to football.
There are no distractions.
The only goal is to repeat as Super Bowl champions in 2018.
There is no media availability on this Tuesday, but reporters and cameras will descend upon the NovaCare Complex on Wednesday and Thursday for the final days of practice before next week’s mandatory minicamp. The message you’re going to hear from the team is that the Eagles have moved on, have returned their focus to football (not that the focus ever waned), and that nothing is going to get in the way of the team’s expectations for the season ahead.
This is the right way to approach the situation. Nobody is interested in being dragged into a war of words. This football team is very much united in its singular purpose on the field of winning games and off the field of making a positive difference in the community on a daily basis.
A team statement issued late on Monday night after President Trump uninvited the team to the White House put the issue in the past.
"It has been incredibly thrilling to celebrate our first Super Bowl Championship," the statement read. "Watching the entire Eagles community come together has been an inspiration. We are truly grateful for all of the support we have received and we are looking forward to continuing our preparations for the 2018 season.”
Of course, the media will have other ideas when it has open access to the locker room on Wednesday and Thursday, but the truth is that the players will answer the questions and then the 45-minute media window will close and the players will get on with the rest of their days.
That’s just the way it works in the NFL, no matter the big story of the moment. Players and coaches and teams don’t ride high for very long after wins and they don’t dwell in the sludge after defeats. You are trained to move on to the next challenge. And for the Eagles, the OTAs end and move into next week’s minicamp and then the team receives its Super Bowl rings on June 14 and then that’s it until Training Camp. The organization shuts down. Players and coaches scatter for five weeks.
Nothing is going to change that routine.
I’ve often said this through the many years here: What you see on the outside, and how it is portrayed in the media, is often so very different than what truly happens inside the building. Players are trained to tune out the noise. Coaches don’t have much of a clue as to what the media says. Really, it’s all just chatter outside the NovaCare Complex.
Inside NovaCare, the Eagles have some work to do. This team has a long way to go to get the roster down to its best 53 players. There are injured players – among them, left tackle Jason Peters and middle linebacker Jordan Hicks – to get right for when camp begins in late July.
It’s all football at the NovaCare Complex, as it should be.
One side note, though: As was said in the statement, the true thrill of winning the Super Bowl has been “watching the entire Eagles community come together.” It really, honestly and truly been “an inspiration.” Celebrating winning the Super Bowl with the fans and seeing them line up by the thousands – over the weekend more than 2,000 Season Ticket Members had their pictures taken with the Lombardi Trophy, part of the team’s outreach to the fan base, the first endeavor of its kind in the NFL – has been extremely gratifying. We waited our entire lives for this moment, and nothing is going to dull the celebration of the Championship and the preparation to defend it.
It’s nearly 11 a.m. Players just finished stretching and conditioning in the 9,000-square-foot weight room. They’ll be on the field shortly. It’s all about football for a team that believes even more today in, “WE ALL WE GOT. WE ALL WE NEED.”
The beat goes on at the NovaCare Complex.