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Where Are They Now? C Gerry Feehery

Gerry Feehery
Gerry Feehery

Gerry Feehery, an undrafted rookie free agent who had started 33 consecutive games at center for Syracuse University, had two NFL teams vying for him in 1983 – the Eagles and the Raiders.

Then-Los Angeles' owner Al Davis, also a Syracuse alum, may have thought he'd have the inside track because of the collegiate connection. Davis, however, didn't have a chance.

"My dad (Ray) and his brothers owned a machine shop and had Eagles season tickets from before I was born," Feehery says. "He was at the 1960 Championship Game against the Packers."

Feehery was born in Glenolden the same year the Eagles won the title and raised in Springfield. A three-sport athlete at Cardinal O'Hara High School, he proudly had the Birds' green blood in his veins.

"I probably have the biggest Eagle pedigree of anybody, I guess. My first Eagles game was a trolley ride into the city and walking through the University of Pennsylvania campus to Franklin Field with my father," Feehery says. 

"The Eagles weren't that great back then, but they were your guys. I mean, even if they were bad, they were still your guys. I would have to say they were all my favorites. I might not be able to do it now, but I could name everybody on the team. 

"My uncle would take us to Training Camp (at Albright College in Reading) back in the day, once a summer. And I remember there was a guy drafted from Grambling (in 1971), a defensive end, Richard Harris. I remember seeing him, and his leg was like five times the size of my body! It's just incredible to see that stuff back when you were a kid."

Unfortunately, Feehery's father was battling an illness when the Eagles flew his son in from Syracuse following the 1983 Draft and made their pitch. But he was able to share in the experience.

"I asked them if he could meet me at the stadium. At that point, he still was working when he could," Feehery says. "Mike Dougherty, the (team's) film guy, picked me up at the airport, and my dad met us at the stadium. And then Mike gave him the grand tour of the Philadelphia Eagles organization. All of the front office people that were there were so nice to him while I was being physically checked over.

"So I signed with the Eagles, moved back home to the Philadelphia area, and was working out down at the Vet all the time. I'd go to the Vet, workout, go to the hospital, see him. And from that point on, he never really recovered much from being in and out of the hospital. And then he was in for quite a while. I recall when I had to report to camp, he was in the hospital. He told me I was going to make (the team). Unfortunately, when we were in camp, my dad died.

"I remember coming back right after the funeral and just being in a big daze for a couple practices. I couldn't figure out how I was even doing it out there with everything I had just gone through."

Gerry Feehery at an alumni event in 2019
Gerry Feehery at an alumni event in 2019

Feehery's first season with the Eagles was also Marion Campbell's first as their head coach, replacing Dick Vermeil after being his defensive coordinator for six seasons. Feehery was understandably going through a difficult time, but was able to lean on and learn from his new teammates. 

"The linemen there were a lot of veterans that played for Coach Vermeil: Jerry Sisemore, Stan Walters, Ron Baker, Guy Morriss," Feehery says. "And, Stan, especially since he went to Syracuse, he said, 'Kid, listen. Anybody here that were draft picks, they will get many more opportunities than you will because you're a free agent. So you have to make every chance to get pay off for you.' I took that to heart and tried to do the best I could."

After making the team as the long snapper, Feehery broke his hand. The Eagles chose to keep him on the team because of his versatility of being able to play center and guard. Midway through the season, though, he tore his ACL and was done for the year.

"There was a lot of stuff, a lot of stuff that went on, but it was pretty cool being a local kid," Feehery says. "I remember my uncle saying he'd been going to the same bank for years and years and years and the same teller waiting on him, and nobody even noticed him until I came along. I had a lot of family in this area, and it was great that they were able to enjoy the fact that I made the team.

"And I can tell you this. I know for a fact there wasn't many offensive linemen that were running down on kickoff coverage. I did that. I made it the hard way. I wasn't any pedigree, but I did what I had to do and eventually I got to be a starter. And then injuries had an effect on me. I tore my other ACL. I think during my playing career, I had eight knee operations, and the hand and lots of other things. But, you know, it was a dream come true." 

Everything that Feehery went through with the injuries and seemingly countless hours of rehab didn't go unnoticed. In 1987, he received the Ed Block Courage Award. Voted on by teammates, it's given annually to a player from each team who is a role model of inspiration, sportsmanship, and courage.

"They know what it meant for me to play for the Eagles, what an honor it was," Feehery says. "And for them to respect how hard I worked to come back and start again for the Eagles, it's still one of the great things that I was able to achieve."

Attending his first Eagles game at Franklin Field as a young fan, Feehery was able to become an Eagle and play in Veterans Stadium for five seasons. What are among his fondest memories from those days?

"Growing up in this area and just being an Eagle was a dream come true and it's something that never could be taken away," says Feehery. "The other thing is the first time when we had a home game and they announced the starters, and you run out of the tunnel. Just having all my family there and thinking about my dad and stuff like that, it was quite an overwhelming event to go through my head. Running out on the field, it was quite exhilarating."

Now making their home in Media, Pennsylvania, Feehery and his wife, Peggy, have three adult children: Jerry, Kelly, and Katie, and a granddaughter. Following football, he founded an industrial sales company, which he sold after 10 years. Feehery then managed nursing home buildings before retiring.

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