- The Eagles' head coach already has done some winning on the golf course, earning some home jersey privileges when the Eagles play at New Orleans this season.
This is the time of year when NFL players and coaches enjoy gulps of the real world, and for Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, that means hunkering down and making his golf game as good as it can be. Pederson, who plays for the second consecutive year in the American Century Championship Celebrity Golf Tournament at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course in Lake Tahoe from July 13-15, calls his golf game “decent, it’s not great. I’ve got a few more weeks to get myself ready for this event.”
Pederson and his Eagles were underdogs who roared through the postseason to win the Super Bowl on February 4 with an epic 41-33 win over New England. On the golf course, Pederson, six months later, is again an underdog. Given 100/1 odds to win the event, Pederson simply hopes to relax and improve upon his (tied for) 49th-place finish – with rounds of 82, 82, and 86 -- from a year ago.
“I’d much rather be on the sideline, fourth-and-goal at the 1, than swing a golf club and hit a golf ball with that many people in this event,” Pederson said on Monday during a conference call promoting the event with New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton and former Eagles cornerback and current Arizona State head coach Herman Edwards. “It’s crazy. My first day (last year) I had the chance to play with Coach Herm Edwards and Marvin Lewis (Cincinnati Bengals head coach) and, I’ll tell you what, right away you could just settle in and relax. Two great men and two great coaches and I just had a chance to relax and play a fun round of golf and have a good time kind of getting to know each other. It is about the fans, the spectators who come out and walk the course and those are the things that make it better for me this year, having been there last year. It’s a tremendous event, the American Century Championship.
“Yeah, I’d much rather be on the sideline calling a fourth-down play. I’m more comfortable in that role than I am swinging a golf club.”
Truth is, Pederson has a fabulous golf game for someone who only has a few weeks each year to play. He’s big off the tee and he’s clutch, as his round with Payton at the spring NFL Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida proved. Pederson and Payton had some friendly wagers during their 18 holes together, including No. 3, when Pederson bested Payton and won the bet: When the Eagles play at New Orleans on Sunday, November 18, New Orleans will wear its road white jerseys and the Eagles will wear their home midnight green jerseys.
To the best of their recollection, Payton dumped one of his shots in the water and Pederson won the hole and the uniform bet. Instead of wagering money, the two had some more novel bets, including the jersey choice and a “taste-of-the-city” bet, that Pederson also won, and the Eagles staff received some tasty New Orleans eats a few weeks later.
“I certainly enjoyed those gifts. Thank you, Sean,” Pederson said, laughing. “Sean and I were paired together and we started riding around and after a while your competitive juices start flowing. You kind of try to feel each other out just a little bit and see OK, ‘How’s he going to play? How am I going to play?’ I think Sean and I got to the point where it was like, ‘Alright, we need to do something here. We gotta play for something.’ We started talking about it and we started talking about jersey colors.”
Knowing that there are only so many things that “head coaches can control,” Pederson said, they made the call the bet on who wears home jerseys when the teams meet this season.
“I was fortunate enough to win that bet,” Pederson said. “It was great because I was able to talk to my owner (Jeffrey Lurie) and my general manager (Howie Roseman) later in the day and explained what had happened and obviously they couldn’t believe it. We had a great day, it was fun, it was exciting. Listen, when the competitive juices are flowing, man, he wanted to beat me and I wanted to beat him and that’s just the way it goes.”
The 54-hole tournament, now in its 29th year, is televised nationally by NBC and NBCSN with additional coverage on the Golf Channel. The celebrity field of 90-plus sports and entertainment stars compete for $600,000 in prize money. The tournament has raised over $5 million for a host of regional and national charities. Other prominent players expected are Charles Barkley, Aaron Rodgers, Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Young, Carson Palmer, Tony Romo, Steph Curry, Roger Clemens, Jerry Rice, Larry the Cable Guy, Anthony Anderson, Alfonso Ribeiro, Reggie Bush, Bill O’Brien, Brian Kelly, Marvin Lewis, Jimmy Rollins, Mitchell Trubisky, and DeMarcus Ware. Former major league pitcher Mark Mulder - who has won the event the last three years, Romo, and Curry are listed as the favorites to win the tournament.
“I’m going to enjoy myself and play some golf and relax,” said Pederson, whose son, Drew, will caddy for him. “It’s a great event and I’m really looking forward to it.”