On Sunday night, the Eagles were solely focused on beating Dallas. In their minds, winning the game was the only thing that mattered.
Flash forward a day and a victory later. Those thoughts quickly changed for linebacker Connor Barwin, wide receiver Riley Cooper and quarterback Mark Sanchez. After video-chatting with Joseph Oneto, a soldier who is currently serving overseas, the three realized just how lucky they are to take the field and play the game they love week in and week out.
"We got the chance to talk to just one soldier and listen to him talk about what football means, what our game Sunday meant to those soldiers and how it can take away from their daily grind of their real life-and-death situations," Sanchez said. "They're out there fighting for our freedom and we're out here playing this game. The game Sunday seemed so important like the world would end if we could ever lose it.
"Then, to be able to talk to this soldier and hear what his daily life was about, what his daily routine was about and just field some questions, take some time to get to know him a little bit, it was an absolute pleasure and really put things into perspective."
To kick off #EaglesSalute, Connor Barwin, Riley Cooper and Mark Sanchez spent Monday afternoon playing Madden with overseas troops ...
Originally, the players were expecting to play Madden with Oneto through a non-profit called Pro vs. GI Joe, which is also known as the Joint Forces Initiative. The group has partnered with the NFL, NBA and NCAA a number of times since its establishment in 2007 to connect military members and professional athletes through video games.
Unfortunately, due to unforeseen technical difficulties, the three were unable to compete online. However, this meant the players could spend more talking, hearing stories and getting to know the soldier on the other side of the screen.
It was an experience that resonated with them, and they will not forget it any time soon.
"We play war video games like Call of Duty and that's his life," Sanchez said. "He's studying for that. He's got to protect somebody. He's protecting an idea that our entire country believes in and rallies behind and that's freedom. We're so fortunate to be able to live in a country where we can celebrate people like that, play the game that we play and then to see the impact it has on people all around the world is pretty special."
As part of this month's Salute to Service initiative around the NFL, the Community Monday worked to show Oneto how much his service is valued by people near and far. Barwin, Cooper and Sanchez all enjoyed exchanging stories far more than playing video games.
In order to share their gratitude, the Eagles, Madden and Bose will send soldiers overseas games and headsets to play during their limited free time.
"In their recreational time they can just kind of hang out, relax, unwind and play a little football, something that reminds them of home and reminds them of being in the U.S," Sanchez said. "It's a real joy. You can't do enough for those guys. This is the least we can do and we appreciate their help."