It was the summer that most Philadelphia Eagles fans would like to forget. In 2011, Vince Young gave the Birds a nickname that is too painful for me to write, let alone acknowledge. He was caught up in a free agency tidal wave of talent which had many thinking would take the Birds deep into the playoffs. Cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and traded-for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, defensive linemen Jason Babin and Cullen Jenkins, quarterback Vince Young himself, and even wide receiver Steve Smith. In the midst of the big names, big money, and big plans, the Eagles signed an offensive guard by the name of Evan Mathis, to add depth to the offensive line and compete for playing time. Three years later, only Evan Mathis remains. But in 2013, Evan Mathis was named All-Pro offensive lineman. It was since his arrival that Evan Mathis helped to anchor the now best offensive line in the NFL.
Evan Mathis came to the Philadelphia Eagles in one of the most unlikely ways for an offensive lineman- free agency. In fact, in a year when free agency of skill positions and big names was the national headlines, the signing of Mathis escaped the feeding frenzy of the national media eager to find an angle to exploit the Eagles struggles in 2011. “Buying a championship” became synonymous with a Philadelphia team desperate to turn the ship around – so desperate in fact that offensive line coach Juan Castillo flipped to become the defensive coordinator and then recently-retired Indianapolis Colt’s offensive line coach Howard Mudd became the new Eagles offensive line coach.
That subtle difference made all the difference in the world, because Mudd preferred athletic muscular linemen. In fact, that is exactly who Evan Mathis was. Evan Mathis was the prototypical Mudd offensive lineman. His career had gone through other NFL teams, but in a period when bigger offensive linemen were “in vogue”. However, as we all know all too painfully well, the spending spree merely accentuated the demise of the Eagles. And unfortunately, the offensive line would experience the same unexplainable misfortunes which drove the once mighty Philadelphia Eagles to a mere 4 win season in 2012. What began with an Achilles heel injury to offensive tackle Jason Peters, soon rippled through the entire Eagles offensive line – center Jason Kelce was injured in September, rookie guard Danny Watkins struggled to find the field, guard Mike Gibson was sent to injured reserve, tackle King Dunlap struggle with a hamstring injury, and finally in a November game in New Orleans, tackle Todd Herremans went down for the season. Who was left? You guessed it. Evan Mathis.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said guard Evan Mathis. “We’ve had some pretty bad luck on the offensive line. If that’s true [that Herremans is out for the year], then I’m the only guy left standing.”
Mathis was not a standout just for his durability. From the moment he arrived in Philadelphia, he’s engaged the fans via social media of twitter in ways that have left all of us entertained. Head coach Andy Reid, despite his prolonged success with the Eagles, endured a group of fans who were eager to oust him from the team and who began “Occupy Novacare”, where they would camp out near the Eagles facility and post “Fire Andy” banners.
To some players, fans disputing with coaches is simply the background of the NFL and avoid commenting. But to Evan Mathis, whose very essence seems to be protecting, running interference, and paving the way for those behind him, the constant image of “Fire Andy” was too much for him to bear, and he fired off one of his most succinctly but eloquently stated tweets to his new teams fanbase:
“If you want Andy Reid fired, you’re an idiot!”
And so began the career of Evan Mathis, a man who had found his place in the offensive line of the Philadelphia Eagles. But while he was earning his reputation as one of the best offensive linemen to don the Eagles jersey, he also was earning the reputation of one of the best sports social media artists of his day as well.
If your name is Ryan Mcquire, you know this only too well. After tweeting “your my hero. I consider myself a young Evan Mathis.” , he found an unexpected response from the player: “A young Evan Mathis would never confuse your with you’re.”
Innundated with replies, Ryan didn’t learn and tweeted “The amount of notifications I’m receiving for being called out by @EvanMathis69 are unreal.” To which Evan responded again – “IS unreal. ;)”