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The Eagles' way: Veterans set the tone for the locker room

Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro
Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro

Much of what Eagles Head Coach Nick Sirianni preaches is the "connect" part of a team – among the players, the coaches, the entire organization – and everyone is involved. Going hand in hand with that is the idea that the veterans lead the way as a show of leadership and with the understanding that they've been around long enough to know that when the team has success, individual success follows.

As the Eagles have gotten younger in so many areas on the roster in the last few seasons, particularly the offense, the veterans have taken it upon themselves to lead the way in the current offseason program, and they have a message for those who haven't been around long enough to absorb what is required to be a Philadelphia Eagle.

"Just showing them, man, let's work. Work together. Let's come together for one cause and that's to win a championship," defensive end Brandon Graham said. "Whatever personal goals you have, you can still get that, but we all have to have the same mindset trying to make you better, just like I've got to be better.

"If we're winning, we're all winning. That's pretty much the message. I just show the guys – because a lot of guys come to me asking 'What got you here (13th season)?' I'm like, 'Working hard, working smart, talking to other guys who were older than me. Getting a regimen of things and just teaching them things as we go.' Especially the new guys coming in. I can always tell how serious you are by, when it gets hard, are you folding or are you keep pushing? Right now, I love it. With the draft, I love the guys they got. Now, let's see what kind of work ethic they've got."

Everyone is talented in the NFL. Every team has great coaching. Many times the difference between winning and losing is how a team comes together and sacrifices for each other. Are players threatened when a team uses a high draft pick on a player, or acquires one in a trade? It happens around the league, you know. There are veterans who don't extend a helping hand to the new players. There are veterans who don't want the responsibility of "mentoring" those behind them.

That's not the way it is with the Eagles.

A great example is the way center Jason Kelce has handled his situation. He did not indicate his plans for 2022 until mid-March and Kelce doesn't know how long he'll play beyond this season, so the Eagles had an opportunity in the NFL Draft to add a player, Cam Jurgens, who is a talented prospect and was one of the top performers in the country at the center position in his final season at Nebraska. The Eagles selected him in the second round of the Draft and, with Kelce aiding in the scouting process, were excited to nab Jurgens with the 51st overall pick.

There was no drama in the selection, or in the aftermath of the pick. Instead, Kelce was as hyped as anyone to get a player so skilled, and then Kelce last week delivered the kind of message that resonates with the locker room and the organization: I'm here to help this young player be the best he can be and help the Philadelphia Eagles win football games.

"I'm looking forward to helping out in any way I can with these young guys, in particular Cam," Kelce said. "I think I've been, some ways, trying to mentor my replacement for a number of years now. You always want to try and help young guys and help the team be better moving forward. I'm smart enough to realize that my time is limited and I'd like to be a part of something that's ... the only way you can live on in this game is through the players and relationships that you forged as a player. Your game is going to be what it is when it's all said and done and that's going to be, for me, a good track record. The way you make a lasting impact as a player, as a person, is how you influence other people and hopefully help others realize their dreams. I think that's a big part of being a veteran player."

This is the Eagles' way, and this is why the Eagles bring character players to the locker room. If you think it's that way throughout the league, look again. The Eagles have a unique group and they are led by a selfless group of veterans.

It is the Eagles' way. And that's just the way it's going to be in this locker room.

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