Sharing the University of Oregon quarterback room with future first-round draft picks Akili Smith and Joey Harrington, A.J. Feeley could have easily been overlooked.
It certainly didn't help when he injured his elbow after making eight starts as a junior and wouldn't start a game during his senior season. However, he performed well in pre-draft showcases, and was chosen by the Eagles in the fifth round of the 2001 NFL Draft.
"For me, it was exciting considering my situation," Feeley says. "I was excited about the opportunity just to be drafted even though I had a feeling that I was going to be drafted. You hear all these great things about Philadelphia, about the fans, and about the sports culture there. We had a great sports culture in Eugene, Oregon, with the Ducks, so I was looking forward to that."
A backup as a rookie to Donovan McNabb and Koy Detmer, similar to when he was in college, Feeley could have been overlooked. And he basically was until the 2001 regular-season finale in Tampa Bay.
"It was a makeup game due to 9/11, and I knew that I was going to get a chance to play because we were going to be playing Tampa Bay the following week in the first round of the playoffs," Feeley says. "We were fortunate enough to have that locked up, so it allowed some of the other guys to get a chance to play."
Feeley took advantage of that chance and threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes – 26 seconds apart – to Dameane Douglas, and led the Eagles to a come-from-behind 17-13 victory over the Buccaneers.
"I just remember being excited about the opportunity," says Feeley, who completed 10 of 14 passes for 143 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. "You only get so many of these and I tried to take advantage of it. The outcome was great. It kind of reassured my belief that I belonged in the league."
After McNabb and Detmer went down with injuries in 2002, Feeley stepped in and started the final five games of the regular season. He led the Eagles to four wins in that span, helping secure home-field advantage in the playoffs.
"I was so focused on trying to do my job and not let down the guys around me," Feeley says. "And with every game, I got more and more comfortable and more confident in my abilities to play."
Traded to Miami in 2004, Feeley spent time with the Dolphins and San Diego Chargers before returning to the Eagles as a free agent in 2006. Chiefly because of Philadelphia's Head Coach Andy Reid.
"At the time, I had options to go to Minnesota or come back to Philadelphia," Feeley says. "I had a close relationship with (former Eagles Offensive Coordinator) Brad Childress, who was the head coach of the Vikings. So, I was getting courted by both of those guys. But my love for the area of Philadelphia, and for Andy, and the offense, it just kind of made sense to come back home."
Retiring in 2012, what is Feeley most proud of his career?
"I would say my perseverance. To be a guy that, I think, maybe only played nine or 10 games in college, to get drafted and have the ability to sustain an 11-year career through ups and downs," Feeley says.
"From high expectations in Miami and then kind of bouncing around and then settling back home in Philly and then moving on to Carolina and St. Louis, I guess my sustainability was to stay in the league. Which as you get older, it gets tougher. Your ability to adapt and find your niche, I was able to do that. I'm proud of that. And I'm proud of the relationships I developed while playing.
"Winning games were great, but a lot of the best memories are Training Camp and the locker room. You don't miss the hits. You do miss the energy and the draw of gameday. But most of all, I miss the camaraderie in the locker room and the banter. That's hard to replace when you're done playing."
Now that he's done playing, Feeley and his wife, Heather Mitts Feeley, a three-time Olympic gold medal-winning soccer player, make their home in suburban Philadelphia. They have three children: Connor, Blake, and Ace.
"She was playing soccer for the Philadelphia Charge at the time when I met her," Feeley says. "We loved the city and thought it was an ideal place to raise a family and settle down."
Feeley became an entrepreneur six years ago when he founded All Directions Medical, which distributes products to surgeons and hospital operating rooms in the tri-state area.
Once an Eagle, always an Eagle. But has it helped business?
"It has its advantages. It can open doors," Feeley says. "So, yeah, it definitely helps with having somewhat of a recognizable name. I definitely feel like I benefited from that. But at the end of the day, just like in football, you've got to sustain and provide value."