Montae Reagor doesn't even try to pretend that he remembers his NFL debut. The Super Bowl Champion and veteran of nine NFL seasons doesn't recall the seven snaps he played on defense in his first game on Halloween 1999 as a member of the Denver Broncos in a 23-20 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
But Reagor will forever remember last Sunday as his son, the Eagles' first-round pick Jalen Reagor, started at wide receiver against Washington. It was difficult for Montae Reagor as the COVID-19 pandemic kept him from seeing his son play for the first time ever as no fans were allowed at FedEx Field.
"I understand the circumstances and the situation," Reagor said over the phone on Thursday. "He knows he has support from the whole family. Everybody's praying for him, lifting him up. Praying that he does well and he competes as best as he can for the organization and continue to show them why they drafted him in the first round, and wear his last name with pride and wear the Eagles' logo with pride."
Prior to the game, Reagor spoke with his son and recalled the exchange.
"At the end of the day, I just need you to relax and play football. Don't press. Let the game come to you, and it will. But the main thing is relax and play football and have fun," Reagor said. "He said, 'I love you, pops.' I said, 'I love you, too,' and I said go have fun and go play football like Jalen Reagor can."
Reagor settled in to watch the game at his mother Laveeda's house in Waxahachie, Texas, over 1,200 miles from Landover, Maryland. When Reagor saw his son on the FOX broadcast pregame, he couldn't believe that his son was about to play for the same team he did 13 years earlier. Montae Reagor's final season was with the Eagles in 2007. He returned to the Eagles as an intern coach during Training Camp in 2012.
"There was a wave of emotion and excitement, and I'm so proud of him for staying the course," Reagor said.
Jalen Reagor's first time touching the ball in Sunday's game didn't go according to plan as he muffed the opening punt return that was fortunately recovered by teammate Craig James.
"When it happened, I just said, 'Son, just relax and catch the ball,'" Reagor noted.
Somehow his son got the message through the television. On the Eagles' second drive, quarterback Carson Wentz aired a perfect deep ball that Reagor tracked over the shoulder for a 55-yard gain to convert a third-and-22 situation.
Not bad for his first NFL reception.
"Very excited. Very excited," Reagor said of seeing the moment unfold on TV. "I was very excited for him because to do it in that fashion, in that stadium, and on national TV where everybody got to see his awareness, that he can track the football, and that he does have elite speed."
Reagor offered coaching points as well. He thought his son's body positioning could have been better in the blocking game. And there was another near big play at the end of the first half where Reagor had a step on Football Team safety Troy Apke. Wentz aired out another beautiful ball, but Reagor didn't think the ball was going to come his way. The pass ended up just a little bit too far in front of the rookie.
"I told him, don't ever be surprised. Be surprised when it doesn't come to you. You run it (the route) like it's always coming to you," Reagor said.
Reagor was targeted four times in the game and finished with the one explosive play. Another target intended for Reagor was intercepted. We all know the end result of the game by this point.
Following the game, Reagor spoke with his son while he was still in the locker room before boarding the buses back to Philadelphia.
"The outcome was what nobody wanted," Reagor said of his postgame chat with his son. "He got those jitters out of the way. Let's get back to work and be better this week."
And he thinks his son will respond.
"He's gonna build on things that he started the first week. He's going to do things a lot better. I expect him to grow from game to game, and do some good things for the organization," Reagor said. "He understands the urgency. He understands where they are, and he understands what needs to be done. He understands why he was drafted number one, and that is to come in and be a playmaker. I always feel that he's going to have a big game as long as his focus is where it needs to be. I always say trust your preparation, so when you get in the game, the game is easy."
It's not lost on Reagor that Wentz, the franchise quarterback, has taken his son under his wing and offered effusive praise in the short time since he was drafted 21st overall.
"I'm appreciative and grateful that he trusts Jalen. He and Carson had several, several, several communications throughout the offseason. They've got a chance to work together to build that trust," Reagor said. "Carson sees something in him that can help the organization, and I'm so grateful that he does. I just hope their rapport, along with the other receivers, just keeps building so this offense can take off."
Reagor knew the organization from his time as a player, but he's thankful to have his son land in Philadelphia along with new Wide Receivers Coach Aaron Moorehead. Reagor and Moorehead were teammates on the 2006 Super Bowl Champion Colts team. Moorehead tried to recruit Jalen Reagor to Texas A&M when he was a coach there. Montae Reagor described the "unique" relationship between Jalen and "A-Mo" as akin to a father-son bond.
"Going into Jalen's first year in the NFL and being coached by any receiver coach in the NFL, I wouldn't want to have it any other way. A-Mo is one of the best. I've seen what he's done in college with his transition and as a player in the way that he worked in his mindset and his focus as far as how he respects the game and what it takes to be one of the best in the game," Reagor said. "I just hope they're together for a long time."