Safety and special teams ace Chris Maragos will play in Seattle this Sunday for the first time since he was a member of the Seahawks from 2011-13. Maragos won a Super Bowl with the Seahawks in 2013 capping off a remarkable rise from college walk-on to rookie free agent in the NFL. He joined the Eagles in 2014 and has helped make the special teams unit one of the league's best since his arrival. Maragos leads the Eagles with 38 special teams tackles over the past three seasons. He joined us on the Eagles Insider Podcast a few weeks back to discuss him remarkable journey. You can listen to the entire interview above, but here are some of the highlights.
Q: You transferred to a new high school before your senior year to get more exposure and increase the chances of obtaining a college scholarship. Did you know a lot of people who did not agree with that decision?
A: "Nobody had expectations for me, so they were saying why would you transfer high schools at this stage of your career? I was more of a track guy in high school, so they were saying I might have a college career in track. I knew what I wanted to do, and I knew I could do it. It took a little bit longer for everyone else to figure that out. I just had to have that inner confidence."
Q: You were a wide receiver in high school and at the start of your college career at Western Michigan. When did you make the switch to safety?
A: "That's when I got to the University of Wisconsin. I was a walk-on at Western Michigan, transferred to University of Wisconsin. Sat out a year, nobody on the team knew who I was outside of the head coach Bret Bielema, who was a former walk-on (at Iowa). It was one of those things where I was going against our defense every day, just as an offensive player. The defensive coaches liked me a lot. They saw I was aggressive, and could run and block and hit and catch and all of that stuff. They said, 'Hey, we think you can play defense.' At that point, I was a walk-on, so I said, 'Let's do it.' I switched over and that's how it happened."
Q: We've heard the story about how your brother, Troy, was the mascot at Wisconsin and he put you in touch with wide receiver Luke Swan to get your highlights looked at. Why did you want to leave Western Michigan in the first place?
A: "I was told by Western Michigan that if I contributed and started that I would be put on scholarship, and I was a starter and a contributor as a redshirt freshman. They lied to me and I basically told the head coach, 'With the style that I play, with my heart and my effort, there's no way that I can play for somebody that I don't trust.' It was never about the money or the scholarship. It was about the respect factor."
Q: Since you were a walk-on in college, did you bank on that experience when you weren't drafted by an NFL team?
A: "It was OK, let's keep going. Some guys it crushes them and they're mad because they didn't get drafted. I looked at it like, 'Man, I have an opportunity to play.' That's really all I wanted. There were so many situations or times when people were taking the game away from me and I couldn't play. I looked at it like somebody's giving me an opportunity to play. I felt in my mind and in my heart that all I needed was an opportunity to play. I'd showcase the rest of it. I'd have the desire and the passion and the work ethic to go do it. I just needed the opportunity to put myself out there."
Q: You were released by San Francisco, your first NFL team. How did you end up in Seattle?
A: "There was a coach by the name of Jeff Ulbrich. He played for the 49ers for 10 years, really good player. He was the assistant special teams coach in Seattle. I was released at the end of Training Camp (in 2011). Seattle had given up two touchdowns on special teams early in the year. In my rookie year, Ulbrich was always watching film with his buddies, all of the guys he used to play with. He remembered watching me on film. Pete Carroll went to the special teams coach and the assistant special teams coach and said you can each bring in one guy to work out. I was Jeff Ulbrich's pick to come in and work out."
Q: What was it like to win the Super Bowl?
A: "Going into the year, I remember telling my wife, Serah, that there's no way we don't win the Super Bowl. Our team was that loaded. The cohesiveness of our team was really good that year. I had been on enough teams to that point to know whether or not guys were hungry. It was a brotherhood on the team. We had a tremendous amount of talent, guys with a lot of experience and really coming into their prime. I think the most special thing about winning the Super Bowl was probably the time leading up to it. The core of that team all came in together - Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Brandon Browner, Russell Wilson, all of those guys. We all came within a year of each other. We were really about to grow together."
Q: In 2014, why did you choose to sign with Philadelphia in free agency?
A: "Philadelphia was one of those teams that I was always super intrigued by. As a player, you hear about different organizations across the league - ones that have good ownership, ones that have a good fan base. This is one of the teams that really stuck out from the start. It started with Mr. (Jeffrey) Lurie and his reputation across the league, just being an owner who gives his team what it needs to win, who wants to win and really has a fire and a drive for that. Then obviously the fan base, you really hear about the fan base, just how passionate they are. That's what drew me here. This is really where I wanted to be. It's the best decision I ever made."
Q: You're someone who openly practices your faith. How integral is religion in the locker room?
A: "It's big. I was never religious growing up. That was the last thing I wanted to be. It just seemed so boring to me and not applicable to my life. It was crazy, in high school I was doing a lot of things I shouldn't have been doing. I was trying to find satisfaction in all of the different things the world had. They'd fulfill me for a little bit, but they'd fade away. That's when I put Christ in the center of my life. For the first time, I felt fulfilled. That was my sophomore year of high school. That's when things changed."
Q: What's your message to someone who is trying to chase his or her dream?
A: "My dad, Nick, always told me whatever your mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve. I think there's so many things, you think about what a mindset really means. It's putting your mind on something, but it's something your heart has to be into first. I think when you really put the substance of the being of who you are into something, you can't be shaken no matter what the external influences are that are changing all the time. If your heart and your mindset are in the right spot, you never change. You keep moving forward. That's a big one.
"Work ethic is one of the biggest things, but you can't misplace work ethic with success because you can work hard at whatever you want to work at, but you just might not have the talent. You might not have the opportunities to do whatever it is you need to do. Work ethic only gives you an opportunity to be in a position to have success. Then, you have to capitalize on your opportunities.
"One of the best quotes I ever heard was, 'Whether it's success or failure, you treat both imposters the same.' They're both false, no matter how you look at it. Success tells you once you do something good enough, you've made it. You're good. You're OK. Just relax a little bit. You'll be OK. Failure, what that tells you is that you're not good enough. You can't make it. There's no way you'll ever be able to reach whatever it is you want to reach. They're both imposters because they both deter you from your end goal. The biggest thing is you have to treat both the same and that's with hard work and details with whatever it is you want to do."