Sean Landeta may have spent 14 seasons as a punter in the NFL with the Giants, Rams, Buccaneers, and Packers before he signed as a free agent with the Eagles in 1999, but Philadelphia is where it started, and is where he'll be the Eagles Legends Community Honorary Captain of the Game when the Eagles host the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
"I had played in Green Bay in 1998 and had one of my best years," Landeta says. "So in '99, I was a free agent and it came down to the Dolphins and the Eagles, and I signed with the Eagles. There were a couple of reasons. One, I had played there (three seasons for the USFL's Philadelphia Stars), so I was familiar with the town. And another reason is the fact that I had played the year before in Green Bay and had gotten to know (first-year Eagles Head Coach) Andy Reid, (who had been an assistant coach for the Packers the previous seven seasons).
"I knew that he had seen me play for a full year and I'd have a real good chance to compete for a job because at that point I was 37. And as you get older as a player, you just like to know you're going to go somewhere where someone has seen you play and you feel like you'll get a real good opportunity to make the team.
"The (nine seasons) I played for the Giants and came back as a visiting player, for me, it was almost like a home game because I was so familiar with the Vet. And when I came back to play there again, it was."
It was home and in 1999, the Eagles came out on top in four of eight games that were played there. Unfortunately, they won only one of eight games away from the Vet, finishing 5-11 as Reid built his program from the ground up. However, over the next three seasons, Landeta and his teammates went 34-14, making the playoffs each year and reaching the NFC Championship Game twice.
"I think a combination of the players and the system that Andy brought to the Eagles definitely was a major factor," Landeta says. "Andy had been around a lot of winning while in Green Bay, so he saw and lived and knew what worked, and he was able to bring that here."
Retiring in 2008 after 22 seasons in the NFL, five with the Eagles, what makes Landeta most proud of his career?
"Certainly, you have to have the ability to do what's necessary to be at this level. But after that, there's so many other things that come into play, especially my position. The guy that snaps you the ball, it's so important. The protection you have. Is your style one that fits the head coach? When you go to camp every year, the other guy is liable to be better than you. And if he is, you're out. It's very simple," says Landeta.
"I was fortunate each year in camp to punt a little better than the other guy. And listen, I never had it easy. I think there were about 10 guys in camp with me through the years, who went on to play five, 10, 15 years in the NFL. So all these guys were good. They could have chosen the other guy several times and, fortunately, they chose me. And so that's where that kind of luck comes in. You have to do your part, but those other things have to go your way to play a long time."
A three-time All-Pro, who was chosen to play in two Pro Bowls, Landeta was a member of the NFL's 1980s and 1990s All-Decade Teams, as well as the Eagles' 75th Anniversary Team.
He is joined by other former Eagles including Randall Cunningham, Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, Seth Joyner, Eric Allen, Jeff Feagles, and Troy Vincent, who are modern-era nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2022.
"It's a great honor to be chosen for that. And hopefully, at some point, I can break into that top 25 (finalists)," says Landet, who had 1,401 punts for 60,707 yards or 34.5 miles in his illustrious career. "It's very hard because there's so many deserving players. But hopefully, the voters will look at the body of work in the era I played, and maybe one day that call will come."
If and when the call comes, Landeta knows that the Philly faithful will be just as proud as he'll be.
"The way I like to put it is – you can only equal the passion and the love that these people have for their teams. It cannot be surpassed," Landeta says. "I've played in real good cities that love their teams but, as I said, Philadelphia cannot be surpassed as far as how much they care."