This past Sunday, Life-Long Eagles Fan Mom and I went to the Philadelphia Eagles Academy for Women at the NovaCare Complex.
Let me get the "IR" part of the story out of the way immediately.
Part of the day included on the field time in the bubble. I managed to severely strain my left calf about 10 minutes into it. After which I texted Chef Spouse: "My first day as an Eagle, and I'm already on IR."
The day opened with registration of what I would estimate to be 250-300 attendees. Life-Long Eagles Fan Mom and I were assigned to Team Maclin. Sadly, that did not mean that we spent the day with Jeremy Maclin.
A team rep welcomed us to the day in the auditorium of the NovaCare Complex, then introduced Kevin Reilly, former Eagle, cancer survivor and motivational speaker. He told a little of his life story, an old but funny joke about a parrot, and basically siked us up with "never underestimate the power of the human spirit." Little did I know how useful that tip would come later in the day.
Then it was Team Maclin's turn in the practice bubble. We did some warm ups, during which I did the damage to the leg, then met rookie Austin Howard. He was really sweet and called everyone "ma'am" and was the biggest human being I'd ever actually stood next to. He seriously could comfortably rest a drink on my head, and I'm not that short.
We moved on to a little 3 on 3. Team reps were on defense and at QB, and we were supposed to be going out to catch passes. Which Life-Long Eagles Fan Mom did, for a TD! I found that, while I couldn't really run forward, I could go backwards, so I played a little D, too.
Then it was on to passing, the obstacle course, and receiving drills. Oh, I still did the rest of the on-field activities. Eagles are tough, and we play injured. You know who else did all the on-field activities? Life-Long Eagles Fan Mom. I'm not going to tattle on her age here, but my first significant football memory was when Dick Vermeil came to Philly. That was 1976, I was 5 and she's my mom, so you do the math.
Then it was time to hit the cafeteria for lunch, followed by touring the complex and classroom time.
Chef Spouse was a little worried about the concept of the classroom time going into the day. He was all: "If they're like, 'This is a football. Now, you get FOUR tries to go TEN yards or you have to give the ball to the other team...' you're going to bust a cap in somebody's ass." He needn't have worried. The Eagles know their fans, and they know that even the ladies don't screw around.
We started with a tour of the training room and the locker room (where I noticed that David Akers' locker was completely cleaned out, not a good sign), then had a sit-down with special teams coach Bobby April where he broke down how they set up punt coverage. My one complaint with all the classroom sessions was that there wasn't enough time for Q&A. I really wanted to ask Coach April how he was able to take Sav Rocca from one of the most inconsistent punters in the league to one of the best in just two seasons, and what his take is on whether or not David Akers will be back next year (that one, he probably wouldn't have answered), but there wasn't time.
Then it was through the workout room, where I got that great photo of the weights above, and on to defense with former defensive tackle Darwin Walker. He walked us through film, talking through how the defensive line sets up to blitz and stop the run. Favorite Darwin Walker comment? "I would give it everything out there. I would pretty much die out there."
After that, Tra Thomas, the guy who protected Big 5's blindside for a decade, walked us through film on how the offensive line sets up big runs or big-time protection to give the receivers time to go long. Favorite Tra Thomas comment? In response to my question about his best memory as an Eagle: "The day I was drafted. I didn't want to go anywhere else."
We wrapped the classroom portion of the day back in the auditorium, with Merrill Reese talking about everything that goes into calling the play-by-play (it's a lot more than you might think). It's good to know that in the heat of a play, Merrill sometimes has as much trouble as I do determining whether the guy with the ball is DeSean or Jeremy Maclin. An 8 and a 0 can look a lot alike, and neither of them is very big.
And then on to the gift bags, which included a BIG blowup of DJax scoring at the Miracle at the New Meadowlands, with Tom Coughlin throwing his clipboard to the turf in the background. Good times.