Philadelphia Eagles News

Who Did Better Than Nate Sudfeld With Their First Touchdown Ball?

A lot has been made of Nate Sudfeld's touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor in Week 17.

Not because it was such a memorable play, but because of what ensued after the play, as Sudfeld pleaded with a young fan, Cohen Zechman, to return the ball that Agholor gifted to him seconds earlier.

Why did Sudfeld place such a high priority on having that ball? Because it was his first NFL touchdown. Not to mention, it came against the team that drafted him in 2016.

Sudfeld promised to return the favor to the 10-year-old and delivered on that promise by getting Zachman a different ball and spending time with him during a visit on Friday to the NovaCare Complex.

But the visual of Sudfeld taking his first touchdown pass ball away from the boy, a visual which a television audience saw play out in real time, brought about a burning question: What do players do with the ball that they scored their first touchdown with?

Some players have no recollection of the play that led to the score, let alone where the ball is, but wide receiver Jordan Matthews remembers his first time reaching pay dirt vividly.

Matthews' first NFL touchdown came during the third game of his career in 2014, coincidentally also against Washington. It was on an 11-yard pass from none other than Nick Foles.

Unlike Sudfeld, Matthews didn't think about keeping the ball once he scored. His quarterback had to remind him.

"I actually caught it and just left the ball on the ground and didn't think about it, but Nick Foles went out and grabbed it and got it back to me," Matthews said. "I didn't even think about it. It was actually good that my guy Foles remembered and grabbed it for me.

"He said, 'Hey, you probably want to take this.'".

Matthews actually scored two touchdowns during what was eventually a 37-34 win for the Eagles. He finished with eight catches for 59 yards and made sure to keep the second ball as well.

The Eagles selected Matthews in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft. One round later, the Green Bay Packers selected tight end Richard Rodgers.

Although Matthews caught his first touchdown in only his third game as a pro, Rodgers had to wait until his 11th to finally get in the end zone. It was his only catch of the game and it helped the Packers defeat the Minnesota Vikings, 24-21.

"It was kind of a weird play, but I had a sneak play, I was wide open on the back side, and Aaron (Rodgers) threw it all the way across the field," the tight end recalled.

What did Rodgers do with the ball? Nothing. He admitted to not even thinking about keeping it.

"I just gave the ball to the ref," Rodgers said. "I wasn't even thinking about keeping the ball."

Rodgers said he has a nice photo of his first touchdown but does not have the ball.

The same goes for fellow tight end Zach Ertz, who scored his first touchdown during his rookie season in 2013. It was the third of Foles' NFL record-tying seven against the Oakland Raiders.

Ertz did not keep the ball. In his mind, it wouldn't be his last time reaching the end zone.

"I figured it was going to be the first of many," he said confidently.

For running back Darren Sproles, he had to wait all the way until his third season to finally score his first touchdown.

Despite setting 23 school records at Kansas State, Sproles slipped all the way to the fourth round of the 2005 NFL Draft, which was when the then-San Diego Chargers selected him.

The only problem was that he was behind future Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson on the depth chart. Needless to say, he didn't get a lot of touches his rookie season.

He missed the entire 2006 season with an ankle injury. At full strength in 2007, Sproles put the football world on notice of his talent.

It started with the opening kickoff the Chargers' game against the Indianapolis Colts on November 11, 2007, which he took 89 yards for the first of many special teams touchdowns.

The significance of his first professional touchdown was not lost on Sproles, as he made sure to keep the ball, which now sets upon a trophy case in his home.

Sproles wasted little time getting his second career touchdown, as he returned a punt 45 yards to the end zone to give the Chargers a 16-0 lead. They eventually won, 23-21.

What is the takeaway from all of this? A player retrieving the ball he scored his first touchdown with can be significant for some. Clearly, it meant a lot to Sudfeld. But for others, not so much.

If it had been a different player under different circumstances, the fan may have been able to keep that ball and would have a cool story to tell his classmates at school.

But since keeping the ball is a big deal to some players, he now has an even cooler story to tell.

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