Philadelphia Eagles News

Hargrove Journey Leads To Eagles

Maybe you have never heard of Hargrove. Maybe you have been too caught up in all of the headlines to notice the one-line transaction from August 3: The Eagles agree to terms on a one-year contract with defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove.

And just like that, Hargrove is an Eagle and he gets on the practice field without a name stitched on his jersey and nobody pays much attention to him.

Until now. Until this.

Hargrove has quickly become a major factor at defensive tackle for the Eagles. His explosive burst off the ball has been noticed by line coach Jim Washburn, and Hargrove at this very moment looks to be on the first-team nickel defense with the job responsibility of a pass-rushing defensive tackle. You watch No. 68 on the field -- he has his name on his jersey now -- and you notice the energy and the boundless joy with which he plays.

"I'm in a great place here," said Hargrove. "You look around here and there are a lot of really good guys here and a good environment. I've had an awesome journey in this league. A lot of ups and downs. Growing up and persevering, striving for greatness, not making all the best choices, but I look back and I've made enough choices to get to where I am today."

Where do you begin with a story like Hargrove's? He was born in Brooklyn, New York in a tough upbringing. His mother died of complications from AIDS when Hargrove was 9 and after shuttling around the foster care system, he moved to Florida with an Aunt.

A talented football player, Hargrove was good enough to earn a scholarship to Georgia Tech. Two years later Hargrove dropped out of school, then fathered a child and left football behind as he rallied to pay the bills. But Hargrove kept his dream of playing in the NFL alive and he was eventually a third-round draft pick by the Rams two years later.

Imagine that. Hargrove hadn't played for two full seasons and was still a third-round draft pick. Talk about talent. Talk about, as the NFL found out later, trouble.

Hargrove's time in St. Louis didn't last long before he became undependable and the Rams traded him to Buffalo. The same thing happened in Buffalo for Hargrove. He played good football for a couple of seasons and then got himself into trouble off the field. A failed drug test landed Hargrove on the league's suspension list for four games in 2007, and another failed test later in the season earned him a year-long suspension in 2008.

"I have to thank my family for supporting me and believing in me, and there are people in the NFL, many behind the scenes, that worked day and night and believed in me enough to give me another chance," said Hargrove. "The first step back was to gain trust and to accept accountability. I was never where I said I was going to be. I never did what I said I was going to do. I was the one who made the choices that I made. There was nobody else to blame but me, so to come out of it, had to accept the challenge."

Hargrove's story is one of redemption. He was signed by New Orleans for the 2009 season and played a key role in the Saints' Super Bowl run. Hargrove was a sometimes-starter and a big plus along the defensive line. He was also so inspiring that his teammates voted Hargrove the winner of the team's 2009 Ed Block Courage Award.

The Eagles voted Michael Vick their recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award that season, and Hargrove made sure to spend some time with Vick at the award ceremony later in the spring. Now they are together on this roster.

"We got to sit there and I wanted to relate what he did to what I went through," said Hargrove. "It's amazing what hard work does for you.

"It was a humbling situation for me. You are forced when you go through rehab to live with people you never thought you would live with. You are forced to find similarities with people you never thought you had anything in common with. That's what is most humbling. We are all just humans on this Earth. We all make bad choices.

"You have to make a conscious decision to set your life straight and then do it every day."

Hargrove is a man at peace. He understands that he is in a fortunate situation on a team that has the highest of goals. Hargrove says he just wants to give head coach Andy Reid and the coaching staff "a reason to keep me around" and that is why he is Mr. Hustle on the field.

"I'm bringing all the energy I have," he says.

Hargrove's first week as an Eagle has been a good one. Now he has a chance to step up in the preseason game on Thursday night (7:30 p.m. kickoff vs. Ravens, 6abc) and do more to impress. Hargrove has a chance to make the team and he has a chance to earn substantial playing time.

His remarkable journey continues.

"This is awesome. I love the scheme. This is the first time in my career I have been let loose. He (Jim Washburn) is letting me use my speed and my athletic ability. My job is to go and make plays.

"Things happen fast here. I got a phone call and my agent and I discussed it. It was the Eagles, a team that has had a lot of success. We were like, 'Let's go. Let's make this happen.' So here I am. Three years ago I was receiving treatment. To be here, I am blessed."

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