Philadelphia Eagles News

Players Learn To Tune Out The Noise

There is clattering in the social media world every second of the day, and there is a constant media stampede, and anywhere a player goes beyond the NovaCare Complex, he has an audience that wants to be heard.

When times are good for an NFL player, the reaction is adoring and lavish and syrupy-sweet with love. When the times are not going as well, the tone is piercing and angry and just not nice at all.

So what is a player to do? The veterans in this game, on this team, know how to turn a deaf ear and eye and keep their focus on winning football games.

"I think once you get two to three years into the league, you know how it works. No matter what anybody says or writes or whatever, it doesn't affect what you do on the field. And if it does affect you, in my opinion, you're just weak-minded," tight end Brent Celek said. "It's taken you 20-something years to get to this point, and you're going to let somebody else tell you kind of how you should do things? I don't know. That's kind of awkward for me.

"You learn how it goes. When you first come into the league, it's all new and you have to experience everything. For me, yeah, I've become accustomed to how it works. I know that reporters have jobs to do and I know that fans are emotional and that they love the team and only want us to win. The decision has to come from within you whether you choose to listen to the outside. I don't listen. I listen to my coaches and my teammates and then I go out and try to become a better player and help us win games."

The mood for Eagles fans these days is very passionate, as always. A 1-3 start to a season that holds such high expectations is not what anyone expected. And, as you might imagine, the reaction from the fans has been emotional.

Players understand that, even if they tune it out. And that's not an easy thing to do with the world of social media such an integral part of everyone's life.

"You have to stay focused, win or lose," wide receiver Miles Austin said. "After you win, there are going to be a lot of good things said, for the most part. After you lose, it's bad things. I take the same approach each week, win or lose. I've kind of taken the same approach at every level of football -- high school, college and here. We've heard it all of our lives -- 'You're only as good as your last play.' That's the truth. If you get too high or get too low as a player, it doesn't help you."

And social media? @MilesAustinIII has 268,000 followers on Twitter, so surely Austin is engaged with those fans, right?

"I honestly can't remember the last time I tweeted," he said (for the record it was March 15, although he's had a couple of retweets since, the last on August 1 from tight end Zach Ertz). "I don't tweet too much (he has tweeted 741 times since joining Twitter in January 2010). When you do, really, it doesn't help too much. If you tweet, 'I'm at the movies with my family,' you hear back from some people, 'Hey, you should be training and preparing for the season.' So, sometimes you just can't win."

Players are available to the media for about 45 minutes three days during the week and then the doors to the locker room are open 10 minutes after each game, so there is a lot of exposure. Philadelphia, of course, has a large media contingent and a voracious appetite. The tone is not always positive, but it is always professional.

Center Jason Kelce, who co-hosts a weekly radio show in addition to his in-locker room responsibilities, is one of the most accessible players and is a go-to voice for reporters. He's honest and engaging and thoughtful in his responses, and he's always understanding that it's important to block out what is said beyond the walls of the NovaCare Complex.

"I don't know that there's a strategy. You try to have a realistic outlook on what's going on and then I don't know if there's a conscious strategy to block it out or a conscious strategy to look it up. Once you've been doing it for a while, you just go about your business," he said. "My job is to come in here every single day and focus on what I can do to improve, and thorough that process I just kind of naturally form a chemistry with the guys that you're with, the team and as long as you stay together and you don't start naysaying, you usually don't pay too much attention to what the media is saying."

The players want the same thing that the fans want: They want wins. They want to fix what's not going well. They want it now.

But it's also a tough business and it's hard to win in the NFL. Sixteen games seems like it goes by in the blink of an eye, but when you live it day-to-day, you understand how long a season is, and how you judge a team after it's all over, not in the middle of the moment.

"Don't go on social media, especially after the game," linebacker Brandon Graham said. "Don't go on there during the week. Try not to watch SportsCenter. Just focus on your family, if that's what you've got going on."

So is Graham has five sacks in a game, he's still going to turn a blind eye?

"Well, that's a little different," he said, laughing. "Then you want to enjoy it. But I'm never one to run from the media. I understand it. I'm going to stand tall and keep my head up because I know it's just the little things. One big play on Sunday and we beat Washington, and that's going to come for us. I know we're better than this."

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