On Tuesday afternoon, linebacker Stephen Tulloch reunited with the man who had him drafted 10 years ago.
"The Tennessee Titans were about to draft a guy from another school, so Coach (Jim) Schwartz goes into (Titans head coach Jeff) Fisher's office and shows him tape of my highlights in college and changed Coach Fisher's mind," Tulloch said. "I was the 116th pick in the 2006 draft and the rest is history."
Tulloch and Schwartz prepare for their third stint together. Schwartz spent three years as his defensive coordinator in Tennessee from 2006-08, and three as Tulloch's head coach Detroit Lions from 2011-13. When Tulloch got the call from the Eagles, he was ready to go to work and play the game he's loved since he was a 5-year-old.
"I didn't ask coach when I came what role I was going to play. I just told coach whatever you need me to do, I'll do," Tulloch said. "I'll come here and continue what we did in past history together playing ball. I know what he does. I know what he expects out of his players and if I can help the younger guys get better I'll do that."
The Eagles announced on Monday that they agreed to terms with linebacker Stephen Tulloch. Learn more about the NFL veteran and what he brings to the organization.
The Eagles sought depth at the linebacker position after an ACL tear to rookie Joe Walker thinned the position group. Tulloch joins Jordan Hicks, Mychal Kendricks and Nigel Bradham as the primary linebacker corps.
"I think Jordan Hicks is a really good player," Tulloch voiced when asked about being a mentor to Hicks, who is in his second season. "He's very smart, he's got a lot of ability. Good range, can run a lot. I'd give him wisdom. I'd just talk to him. I'm not here to step on anybody's toes. I'm going to go out there and work hard every day. Those guys can follow my lead or if they can outdo me then they outdo me. But I'm going to go out here and give everything I have every day, but that's just the way I am, the person I am and how I play the game."
The way Tulloch plays should serve as a model for young players. He takes care of his body. From hiring trainers and massage therapists, to chiropractors and acupuncture treatments, Tulloch invests in the well-being of his body. However, a freak ACL tear after celebrating a sack of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in Week 3 of 2014 sidelined Tulloch for the first time in his entire career, ending a streak of 131 consecutive games played. Tulloch hadn't missed a practice in his entire career until that point. Schwartz recounted an instance on Tuesday when his linebacker refused to sit out a Training Camp practice during their time in Detroit.
"We tried to give him a vet day off in Training Camp and told the trainers, 'Hey, Tully will be down today,' and he came in my office mad as a hornet and was ready to practice. And I'm like, 'Hey, look, you're starting to get up a little bit. Let's be smart with this.' He was like, 'You're ruining my streak.' I'm like, 'What are you talking about?' He said, 'Coach, I've never missed a practice,'" Schwartz said.
"He never missed a game, but he had never missed a practice and I think he said that dated back to high school. That's going back to N.C. State, high school and eight years in the NFL that he had never missed a practice. So guys like that, they know how to get themselves ready. He's not coming in here with his eyes shut not knowing what he's getting into. He's done it before so he will be able to do that. I'd be very surprised if it was a different case."
Tulloch returns to the defensive scheme he finds "most comfortable" in his entire NFL career and a coach he truly admires.
"I got a lot of love and respect for Coach Schwartz," Tulloch said. "I always thank him for the opportunity I had in Tennessee and for having him push to draft me back in 2006 when nobody else really wanted to go after me."