Brent Celek, the longest-tenured professional athlete in the City of Philadelphia, has experienced plenty of success in his 11 seasons with the Eagles.
He ranks fourth in team history in regular-season games played (175) and receptions (398), plus is eighth in receiving yards (4,998). He's been reliable, having missed just one game in his NFL career. He's played in 82 consecutive regular-season games, which is tied for the second-longest streak among all active tight ends.
There is one thing that has eluded him his entire life. That is winning a championship. He's never been at the top of the mountain whether it's been at the Pop Warner level, high school, college or since arriving in Philadelphia as a fifth-round pick in 2007. He wants nothing more but to bring a Super Bowl championship to Philadelphia and have a parade down Broad Street.
"My goal in life is to win a Super Bowl, since I was in the second grade. Since maybe even before then," Celek says. "I eat, breathe, live, sleep, everything football my whole life. I want to do it, still to this day, I want to get there. Do whatever it takes to get there.
"It would mean everything. This organization deserves it. The guys in this locker room deserve it. The city, the fans, everyone. But it comes down to us going out there and doing it. There's a lot of work in front of us, but it would mean a whole lot. Trust me."
Celek is the only player on the current roster who has won a playoff game as an Eagle. He was in his second year when the team snuck into the playoffs on the final day of the regular season, capped off by a 44-6 trouncing of the Dallas Cowboys. Philadelphia went on the road to beat Minnesota and upset the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants before losing in the NFC Championship Game to the Arizona Cardinals.
It was a breakout postseason for Celek who had 19 catches for 161 yards and three scores. He was at his best when the lights were brightest as he set the team record for most receptions in a playoff game with 10 to go along with 83 yards and two touchdowns in the Cardinals game.
"I think that's always eaten at me whether it's grade school, high school, college, I've never won a championship. To win it at the highest level would be the ultimate feeling," Celek says. "I don't ever want to leave this game not winning a championship."
As much as Celek has experienced in his career, this is the first time he's been part of a team that earned home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Today marks Celek's seventh game in the postseason tournament. Nearly half of the players on this team will suit up in it for the first time.
Celek's advice? Do what got you here in the first place.
"The intensity just goes up. They're going to see it early on in the game. Guys that haven't played in a playoff game, they're going to find out real quick. I think it's important for us that we get going quickly because you've only got one game," he says. "We just have to go out there and execute. We know what we need to do. When we're out on that field, we can block everything out and just say, 'Everyone, do your job.' I don't think there's any magical thing you have to tell these guys. Everyone's just got to do their job."
Celek's role now is much different than that 2008 run. Zach Ertz now the primary pass-catcher at the tight end position, having earned Pro Bowl honors for the first time in his career this season. Celek still plays over 40 percent of the snaps, but he relishes in doing the dirty work (in the trenches) as a blocker.
"I'm here to be the best teammate, to help be a leader to the young guys and do whatever it takes to help this team win because winning is all that matters," Celek says. "All of the personal stuff, that doesn't really mean anything. All that matters is that we win as a team. We have the ultimate goal of winning the Super Bowl. I want to do whatever I have to do to help that come to light."
That doesn't mean he can't help out as a receiver when needed. He had a season-high 39 yards in 54 snaps against Denver when Ertz was sidelined with a hamstring injury. Celek's one touchdown grab came in Los Angeles against the Rams as Ertz was out due to a concussion. The win over the Rams was a microcosm of the season as the Eagles overcame the loss of All-Pro quarterback Carson Wentz before rallying from behind in the fourth quarter to win and clinch the team's first NFC East title since 2013.
"I think that's just the attitude we've had all year. I think if you play on some teams where when something goes wrong, everyone kinds of expects that and things never really go right. On our team, I think that guys expect things to go right, expect good things to happen," Celek says. "And they do."
Celek hasn't been this close to a Super Bowl since that 2008 season. Unlike that campaign, the road to the championship game goes through Philadelphia.
"It's going to be a lot of fun," he says. "I can't wait for it. I know the fans are going to bring it."
This feature appears in the January 13 edition of Gameday Magazine which will be available at the Eagles Pro Shop at Lincoln Financial Field and Philadelphia-area ACME supermarkets.