For the fifth time in as many weeks, the Philadelphia Eagles are scheduled to play in a football game versus a team that employs someone we considered one of our own. Duce Staley was on our minds as we watched HBO’s Hard Knocks series before the Birds met the Detroit Lions in Week 1. The home opener meant Jalen Reagor and Jordan Hicks returned.
In Week 3, Philly battled Carson Wentz and the Washington Commanders. Doug Pederson and the Jacksonville Jaguars were the opponents in Week 4. In Week 5, there will be another familiar face standing on the opposing sideline. This time, we’ll see Zach Ertz, the most accomplished tight end to ever don an Eagles jersey.
This one’s on the road in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals are the next obstacle in Philly’s journey, but it appears the Birds are packing some of the ‘brotherly love’ that Philly is known for, and they’re taking it with them on the trip.
Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni and franchise legend Zach Ertz share their thoughts on each other.
Zach Ertz spent eight seasons and the first six games of his ninth in the City of Brotherly Love, starting 90 of his 130 in-game appearances in the process. That includes seven postseason appearances where he made five starts.
On Monday, he spoke virtually with members of the Philly media. When the subject of his reunion with his former team and teammates took center stage, the three-time Pro Bowler had this to say. We weren’t present for the call, so thank NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Reuben Frank for the quote.
"Obviously, the last 18 months in Philly weren’t the easiest. There was a lot going on behind the scenes that a lot of people don’t know about. At the same time, I loved all my time in Philadelphia. I’ll never have a bad memory about my time there… I’ll never have a bad memory about my time there, and a lot of it is down to guys like Kelce, Lane, B.G., Fletch, the guys I spent eight, nine years with, we had some good years and we had some great years, in particular the one (in 2017)."
On the subject of head coach Nick Sirianni, Ertz was equally as candid.
"I really enjoyed Nick. Obviously, he and I were put in a tough spot, and I thought we really made the most out of it… I got to know him extremely well, I think he went out of his way to make me comfortable going through everything I was going through that summer."
He also touched on Coach’s approach to building a new culture during his first season with the Birds.
"The thing that I really liked about Nick was how detail-oriented he was. We used to watch film of practice, a couple plays every day, and if you had a bad rep your number would be on the screen. I absolutely hated when I saw 86 on the screen, and it motivated me every time went on the practice field to make sure my negative wasn’t in a negative light, so there were just little things like that. I felt like he does a really good job relating to guys, connecting with guys (and) I have a lot of respect for Coach Sirianni."
The respect is mutual. Nick mentioned Zach during his sitdown with the Philly media on Monday, stating the following.
"I think so highly of (his touchdown catch during Super Bowl LII)… Zach’s a really classy guy. He works his butt off, so my memories of Zach, mostly, (surround) the hard work he put in every single day to be at his best. I thought that you saw that every day at practice. You saw that every day at a game, that he worked his butt off to maximize his potential. Obviously, he’s still playing at a very high level. When guys work like that, that’s contagious, and other guys see it. Obviously, Dallas (Goedert) was able to see that. I was only with the two of them for about five months, but I know that Dallas obviously saw the great play-making ability, how Zach’s an all-time Eagle. I think Dallas saw that. I saw it."
Perhaps the next statement sums it all up.
“Zach worked his butt off. I’m sure he still works his butt off, and that’s why he still plays at a high level”. Yep! As expected, there’s nothing but respect on both sides.
It’s known as the City of Brotherly Love. Still, if you’ve ever been to a game at Lincoln Financial Field to see the Philadelphia Eagles play (or Veterans Stadium before the Linc’s existence), you’ve probably witnessed actions that would make you wonder if that nickname is still an appropriate one.
Birds fans can be tough, especially if you show up wearing the wrong jersey, but they’re fair. If you earn the love of this fan base and city, you’ll be loved forever (except for maybe when your team is playing the Birds). Just ask Doug Pederson about that reception he received during his return.
Again, the Eagles next game is on the road. Zach’s return to The Linc will have to wait, but we’re all still cheering for him. We just won’t be doing so at 4:25 p.m. EST on Sunday, October 9th.