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Jevon Kearse reflects on Eagles' Super Bowl XXXIX run and his time in Philadelphia

When offensive tackles faced Tennessee's defensive end Jevon Kearse during the first five years of his career, they could have been thinking they were reading a Stephen King novel. It was scary.

After all, the All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowl selection was called "The Freak."

So, when he became an unrestricted free agent in 2004, the Eagles were more than interested. And it turned out that the feeling was mutual.

"I remember my agent at the time, Drew Rosenhaus, he was giving me all the different scenarios, and I'm thinking like everyone else; I'm not trying to sign with a team just for the money. I'm trying to sign with a team so I can go get some of that merchandise (Super Bowl ring) on one of my fingers," says Kearse, the Legend of the Week presented by Microsoft Teams.

"And when he said the Eagles, I'm like, 'Stop playing. The Eagles, for real? The Eagles that were just in their conference championship three years in a row? That sounds like a perfect fit.'"

Well, pretty close to it. Kearse helped Philadelphia open the season with seven straight wins by contributing six sacks. Three came in the third game of the year in Detroit. Along with the likes of Donovan McNabb, Terrell Owens, Jeremiah Trotter, and Brian Dawkins, Kearse was one of a cast of characters who helped lead the Eagles to the NFC Championship and an appearance in Super Bowl XXXIX.

"I don't really think we even realized how special our locker room was," says Kearse, who led the team for the first of two consecutive seasons with 7.5 sacks. "We were stacked at every position. We had (first- and second-teamers) that could keep up the same passion, keep up the same speed whenever the (starters) came out.

"It was good for me as well because I was on a team that was full of leaders. I wasn't forced to be a leader. I'm one of those leaders, I lead by action. We had our guys that led verbally and everything else, but I just wanted to get out there and play.

"And to be honest with you, we were one of those teams that felt like we could win every game. That's a really good feeling, a special feeling to have the confidence to know that everyone can make plays."

Philadelphia's appearance in the Super Bowl was Kearse's second time playing for the Lombardi Trophy. He was also in Super Bowl XXXIV as a rookie for the Titans.

"I would say the difference between my Tennessee Super Bowl and my Philadelphia Super Bowl was that year, in '99, we didn't have the bye week between the conference championship game and the Super Bowl," Kearse says. "Everything just went so fast. It seemed like we were just beating Jacksonville (in the AFC Championship) and the next day we were in the fourth quarter playing against the Rams.

"When I was in Philly, we had the week in between. It kind of gave me a chance to calm down a little bit. Everything wasn't go, go, go, go, go. So, that part right there was good. But then again, it gave room for distractions as far as family members and friends trying to get in contact with you to get tickets and everything.

"But that ride there, it was a phenomenal ride. The Super Bowl year itself was awesome to me just getting exposed to Eagles' fan base. I knew about it, I heard about it, but it's a great feeling to be on their side."

How would Kearse describe Eagle fans?

"They're going to let you know how they feel. Where some fans will sit back and won't say anything," he says. "But they want it all. And if not, they're going to let you know whatever chance they get. The Eagle fans, they're so passionate.

"An Eagles fan is going to let you know, 'Look here, man. I like what y'all are doing. I've got a big bet. You're on my fantasy team coming up. Look into my eyes. I need this game. I need it more than you guys need it.' It was always a fun experience, a fun exchange."

With the Eagles for four seasons from 2004-07 before returning to Tennessee, Kearse spent 11 years in the NFL and retired in 2010 with 74 career sacks.

While timing may be everything, Kearse is happy that his time in the league was then and not now.

"I'm glad that I played when I played. People will post highlights of myself and I'll go back and watch it. All the comments on every sack is, 'That would have been a flag,'" Kearse says. "The thing is, it's so geared towards the offense you kind of feel bad for the defensive guys, the guys who just have a nose for the ball. You know where the ball is going, but you still have to hesitate just a second before you get there because if you get there right when the ball gets there, it's going to count against you. It's definitely geared towards the offense, the way the league is now."

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