It's been almost a full year since defensive end Derrick Burgess was on the football field – his last game with New England was a 33-14 playoff loss to Baltimore on January 10. Since then, Burgess has made a new life for himself in Mississippi. He's in the banking business, he said, and he's now beginning to venture into sports talk radio around the campus of Ole Miss (where Burgess was first team All-SEC as a senior in 2000).
Those plans, however, have been put on hold. For now, Burgess is back in Philadelphia and looking to get acclimated to a once-familiar setting.
"I'm just looking around and feeling my way around right now," Burgess said Wednesday. "There are a couple of guys here I know, and there are a couple of younger guys that I already knew so it felt right."
After his 16 sacks led the league in 2005, and after his two straight Pro Bowl appearances in '05 and '06, Burgess began to see his productivity decline. In 2008 he only played in 10 games for the Oakland Raiders with an injured triceps and recorded only 3.5 sacks. He recorded 5.5 sacks in 16 games for the Patriots in 2009 – the lowest sack total of his career for a season in which he played in all 16 games.
When Burgess left New England, he thought his football career could very well be over. With the opportunities he had in Mississippi, Burgess said only a handful of teams could have made his return to football seem worthwhile.
One of those teams called this week.
"I was already moved on," Burgess said. "I had a whole lot of things going on (in Mississippi) at the time; enjoying my kids and things like that. But when opportunity knocks, you try to make the best of it.
"It didn't have to be (the Eagles)…well I'm not going to lie; it made it a lot better. Just knowing the coaching staff and being somewhere familiar, it definitely helped."
Whether or not Burgess will play Sunday afternoon at the Meadowlands remains to be seen. It will largely depend on his comfort level within the defense – one that is slightly different now under coordinator Sean McDermott than when Burgess was last in town.
"I'm going to take it one day at a time," Burgess said, "try to learn these different calls, and try to help this team as much as I can."
-- Posted by Josh Goldman, 1:30 p.m., December 15