Of course I remember the hit on Reggie Bush in the 2006 playoffs.
Earlier that year, they had killed us with that big play throwing to Bush. The play was Marques Colston lined up close to the line of scrimmage, and he would go in and he would pick the linebacker or make the linebacker run around him. They would swing the ball to Reggie Bush and now he would be outrunning the linebacker. In the first game we played them, I think Matt McCoy was the guy that was trying to cover him …and they killed us on that play over and over again.
It was a play we were working on all week in practice. Jim Johnson set up a scheme where I would trade off with the linebacker who was supposed to cover the flat. I would show man-to-man press, and then before the play I would back off into zone on that side of the field. What we did on that play was we decided to recognize it between me and Jeremiah Trotter to trade it off, which coach Johnson allowed us to do throughout the course of the week in practice.
I'm sure the Saints had worked on it all week too. They ran it on the second or third play of the game and we just killed it. I was able to show man, back off at the end, act like I was covering the receiver but (Brees) would flare it out to Reggie and I would have a free shot to get him. And it worked just like we practiced it.
When a guy doesn't see the hit coming, you don't feel it at all. It's like running through cardboard boxes. They're light. When a guy can see you coming to hit him, he can brace himself, shift his weight to try to gain an advantage on you. But he totally didn't see that hit coming.
The game the way it is today, I probably would be flagged or thrown out of the game. I probably wouldn't have done it. It was a clean hit, but I'm sure they would have deemed him defenseless at the time. They might say he didn't have an opportunity to make a football move after the catch before I hit him.
I'm sure that play is still in the Saints' playbook, probably with Darren Sproles as the home-run hitter instead of Bush. I'm sure they're still running it. If I was breaking down film, I'm sure I would still find it in there. We played them last year when I was in Cleveland, but Sean Payton wasn't there. If you even go back to the Saints' playoff run back in that season, they ran the same play the next week against the Chicago Bears and Reggie Bush outran Brian Urlacher and score a touchdown on it.
Was it the best hit of my career? It is one of my favorite plays, but I enjoy my hit on Steven Jackson too because he was 240 pounds. That was one of those things where coach advised the DBs not to go high, but I was still able to put a big man on his back.
Here's what I would say to the Eagles preparing for their first playoff game in front of the Eagles fans. That atmosphere is a college atmosphere, first of all. It's probably as close to a college atmosphere as you're going to get when you're talking about professional team sports. They're die-hard. The players have to stick together through thick and thin, no matter how the game goes. There are going to be turnovers, there are going to be changes. No matter what happens throughout the course of the game, it's just the nature of the business, so this could be their last game together and they have to go out and cherish the moment. Don't really worry about what's going on in the stands.
And definitely don't worry about the weather. I remember being favored in the NFC Championship game against Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the 2002 season. They'd won one game in under 40 degrees or something like that. They came to Veterans Stadium and I think Ronde Barber picked off a ball to seal it for them, we were driving, and that was the first time that they had won in cold weather. They ended up going to the Super Bowl and we ended up going home. So, the weather, if it's a different game, a different game plan, different people playing, you can't really worry about this or that. Just go out and fight for the man next to you.
A second-round pick by the Eagles in 2002, Sheldon Brown played 11 seasons in the NFL, eight for the Eagles. One of the hardest-hitting cornerbacks of his era, Brown started 98 games for the Eagles and recorded 19 interceptions for the team. He spent the last year as an assistant football coach for Lewisville High School, his alma mater. This year, he'll be coaching his soon-to-be 8-year-old son in little league basketball and baseball while still keeping a close eye on his fellow South Carolina Gamecocks in the NFL.