There are many game-changing plays that occur over the course of a 60-minute contest. Interceptions. Turnovers. Penalties. Touchdowns. There are also many impactful moments over the course of a man's life, but none compare to the substantial alterations that come with fatherhood. The players know that the football team is counting on them to produce and contribute in order to help win. Once they leave the field, however, the children need their fathers to be so much more than just role players.
"This guy is dependent on me for everything. He's a clean slate," said linebacker DeMeco Ryans, who has a son, DeMeco Jr. "Whatever I teach him, whatever he learns is all predicated on how I raise him. It really showed me the importance of being a father because you really have a big impact, a big influence on them and how they are going to come up and how they are going to be when they become a parent. What's their demeanor? It's a really huge role and I take it pretty serious. It's not about me anymore. You really put yourself on the back burner."
Ryans has been a leader both on and off the field dating back to his college days at Alabama where he was nicknamed, Coach. For some of Ryans' teammates, the transition to fatherhood was easy because of the role models they had growing up.
On this Father's Day, check out some of the Eagles as they share camera time with their sons and daughters ...
"I was really thankful to have a great father, who really showed me what it means to have strong faith, integrity and character," said safety Chris Maragos of his father, Nick. "Doing things that from the outside view might not have made sense, but doing it because it was the right thing to do. I'm very fortunate for him to set an example and I hope I can do the same for my kids."
Maragos is a core member and one of the leaders of the Eagles' top-ranked special teams unit. He was also a captain in college at Wisconsin. No matter what position one has on the football field, fatherhood is a critical leadership role.
"The thing about being a leader no matter in what aspect of life is that you have to be willing to stand on things. You have to be willing to stand on your own convictions and to paint a picture no matter if it's for family or people that you work for, whatever it may be," Maragos said. "You have to have a clear vision that you really have to go against the grain because sometimes everybody else is going with the grain."
Eagles players are looked at by others as role models, but who were their heroes? For some, it was their fathers.
"My dad may have been the most inspirational person in my life," said cornerback Nolan Carroll of his father, also named Nolan. "He might not have been a superstar or whatever, but in my eyes, he was my hero. He always did things the right way. He was always talking the right way. So I always look at him to be the example. I have my own son now, and I want to be like my dad. I want to teach him what my dad taught me."
Carroll, the elder, is a military man who served over 25 years in the Air Force, earning the title senior master sergeant. Now, there are three Nolan Carrolls in the lineage, after Nolan III was born.
Quarterback Matt Barkley is celebrating his first Father's Day after his wife, Brittany, gave birth to their son, John, on June 7.
"It's blown away any expectations I had of being a father. It's been a 100 times better. Just holding him, looking at him, hearing him cry," Barkley said. "I'm just excited to teach him life when he gets older. It's exciting."
Barkley solicited advice from fellow fathers on the team. Some of the single players even chimed in.
"How fast it goes by and the next thing they'll be walking around and running around and playing sports and all of that stuff," Barkley said of the best advice he received. "Just try to savor every moment. I've been trying to do that so far."
No matter what happens on the field, these fathers always have fans waiting for them with open arms.
"You get home after a hard practice and a hard day and they're always happy to see you. It really makes you feel good," said running back Darren Sproles, father to two daughters. "When I'm at home, I don't think about football. I'm just daddy at home."