The page on the calendar turns and we welcome November and the cold air and the holidays and the playoff chase in the NFL. Before that, though, I want to look back on a significant October for the Eagles off the field. The organization wrapped up its seventh Tackling Breast Cancer campaign, and the success of the program and its league-wide implications deserve some recognition.
Eagles President Joe Banner came up with the idea seven years ago that the Eagles should promote a breast cancer awareness campaign, and the Eagles partnered with Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals. Seven years, and more than $1.5 million later, the program is a model of what can be and, in fact, what is: The NFL took a look at the success of the Eagles' efforts in the community and began their own Tackling Breast Cancer campaign.
Now you see players wearing pink gloves and pink cleats in games throughout the month of October. You see coaches wearing the pink hats on the sidelines. You see the fans donning the pink -- all for the good of a cause far more important than wins and losses on the field.
The money raised through the sale of merchandise all of these years helped to fund the new Jefferson Breast Care Center, located in Center City Philadelphia, and ensures that women and men of the Delaware Valley are provided the most advanced technology and newest treatments in breast cancer care.
"The Eagles are a special partner for us," says Tom Lewis, President and CEO of Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals. "They bring a tremendous number of dedicated fans who support them and who have supported this program."
The Jefferson Breast Care Center's remarkable Jefferson-Honickman Breast Imaging Center performs over 35,000 procedures annually. The center's staff includes a specially trained breast care coordinator, patient navigators and nurse educators to ensure that patients receive the support, information and resources needed. The center is further expanding by including a screening and education area. With the continuation of our fundraising efforts, in a joint effort with our fans, we look to assist in building awareness around this center's services. People can learn about breast disease, breast cancer risk factors, risk reduction, and treatment options in the center's educational resource library and community conference room.
So, it is a big deal, very big, and one that I felt needed to be recognized on this players' day off. Those who have benefited from the program offer their thanks, and so do we to the great fans who have made the program such a success and that has changed so many lives.
JUST THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW ...
Of the 17 NFL teams with winning records, the Eagles' strength of schedule is the fifth-most difficult at this stage of the season. All of the numbers are going to change during the rest of the way. San Francisco, I think, will win some games down the stretch. I'm not counting the 49ers out in the NFC West. Jacksonville is 4-4 after beating Dallas, but where do the inconsistent Jaguars go from here? Detroit is an emerging team. The Falcons are one of the best teams in the NFC.
JASON PETERS, ONE ON ONE
We all watched Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney destroy the Texans on Monday night with his array of spin moves and quick-off-the-ball power rushes to the tune of two quarterback sacks and a forced fumble. Freeney made mincemeat of left tackle Duane Brown. The Eagles certainly have spent time studying Freeney during the bye week and nobody has looked at Freeney more than left tackle Jason Peters, who returns from knee surgery to start against the star pass rusher.
What makes Freeney so good, says Peters, is his low-to-the-ground style, his speed, the power and his veteran savvy. Freeney is "the total package" says Peters.
"He is as good as it gets," said Peters. "There is stuff I have to work on, the little things. I have to put it all together on every play."
Peters is an interesting guy. He doesn't talk much. He made the Pro Bowl, yet you hear the criticism of his game out there. Reporters approach Peters and barrage him with questions about his false-start penalties and the mistakes he has made, rather than accentuate the good part of his game. It comes with the territory of signing a contract that at the time reportedly made Peters the highest-paid left tackle in NFL history.
"It bothers me to a certain extent, but that is what happens when you are a player of my status. Other people make the same mistakes, but they want me to be perfect. They don't want me to start early. Look around the league and you see that I'm right up there with other left tackle in the league," said Peters. "I'm a target. Once they paid me all that money, it was like, 'You can't mess up. You have to be right on.' When I played in Buffalo and didn't make as much money, I didn't hear the criticism. I played hard every Sunday and made the Pro Bowl.
"I understand how it works. The words don't bother me, but I'm aware of what people are saying. As long as Coach (Juan) Castillo is OK with my play, and he is harder on me than anyone else, that is all that matters. I've false-started, what, three times this season? I don't want to make any mistakes, but I'm human, too.
"I'm just glad to be back on the field with my teammates. I'm going out there on Sunday playing Freeney, who might go down as the best defensive end to ever play the game. I'm excited. I'm preparing totally because I know he brings it on every play."
PATTERSON AND HIS ROLE ON SUNDAY
Dimitri Patterson is in line, it appears, to start at right cornerback on Sunday against the Colts. It ain't easy starting against Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon and Co. and so we will learn a lot about Patterson right away. His move to the starting lineup means that Bobby April will not have his top special teams points producer, and it remains to be seen how April will replace Patterson.
There is also no explanation for Ellis Hobbs and his role, should the reports come true and Patterson starts on Sunday. Hobbs reportedly didn't practice on Monday when the team reported back from the bye weekend. Andy Reid addresses the media on Wednesday to discuss all of the injuries and the potential lineup changes.