It's not often you see teammates competing off the field but the Eagles are participating in a friendly competition while changing numerous lives in the Philadelphia community.
Each week, the Eagles take part in events intended to service members of the Philadelphia community. These events can vary from working with children with disabilities, visiting patients at hospitals, school appearances, to spending time with members of armed services.
As a gesture for the player's giving back on their off-days, the Community Commander of the Week is given to the player who demonstrates outstanding participation and engagement during the team's weekly event. As a prize, the player receives the green and golden-plated Community Commander Belt that resembles a heavyweight championship belt. After each week, a new Commander is chosen and the belt is passed on. It's an item that has quickly become the most coveted possession in the locker room.
"Guys give their time, in general, to come out but to know that you're efforts can get rewarded with a WWE-style belt kind of adds to it a little bit," said wide receiver Torrey Smith. "I don't know if guys are necessarily competing to get it but it's more like bragging rights if you do have it. So whenever someone has it they're always boasting around with it for a while. But it's all fun."
Safety Rodney McLeod is the reigning Community Commander after having attended the most community events last season. As a reward, McLeod held onto the heavyweight title over the offseason.
"I don't know if I'm going to be able to repeat. Hopefully, I can but it might be a little tight this year," said McLeod. "I know a lot of guys have been out in the community giving back and it's obviously good to see other teammates take the initiative and going out on their days off and giving back to this Philadelphia community that supports us each Sunday."
Out of the 11 community events, Smith has attended eight events, the most by an Eagle this year. In a close second-place, is second-year linebacker Joe Walker (seven). So far, Walker and rookie wide receiver Mack Hollins (four) are the only players to win the belt in two different weeks this season. Linebacker Nigel Bradham is still in the hunt for the Community Commander title as well, has attended six events. Like his teammates, Bradham enjoys the opportunity each week to give back to the community.
"It's a lot of motivation and a lot of encouragement and then you're doing something that's helping people and you can see the motivation and inspiration in them as well," Bradham said.
"We've all been in some kind of situation where we went through tough times. We have some events where we're working with certain people and families as far as single parent housing, diabetes, breast cancer, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. You really just see yourself making those kids smile and that's what makes you happy man and for that week that gives you that motivation just knowing that you can make somebody smile just by showing your presence and having fun with them."
The community service stretches outside of the Philadelphia area for next few weekends. The players will have the chance to impact others out west during their two-game West Coast trip against the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams.
"For me I feel obligated because if it wasn't for other people kind of giving me hope I wouldn't be here," Smith said. "I understand the responsibility of being in this position so I think it's important to give your time but also it brings you down to earth. It reminds you of the real problems that are going on out here and reminds you of the people who you're playing for as well. I love that aspect of it probably more so than anything."