GRIDIRON GLORY

WITH PHILLY IN THE SPORTS SPOT­LIGHT FOR THE NFL DRAFT, PHILADELPHIA EA­GLES BRENT CEL AND ROD­NEY MCLEOD TALK FOOT­BALL, FAM­ILY, AND FREE TIME.

Philadelphia Style - - Invited -

Run down the stats and Brent Celek and Rod­ney Mcleod don’t seem to have much in com­mon. Celek, who be­gan his ca­reer as a fifth-round draft pick un­der Andy Reid, is a veteran Ea­gles tight end and has been a fix­ture on both the foot­ball and phi­lan­thropy scenes in Philly for more than a decade. Mcleod, who grew up around the Wash­ing­ton, DC area, just wrapped up his first sea­son with the Ea­gles as a safety af­ter start­ing out as an un­drafted free agent with the St. Louis Rams, and is still get­ting to know his adopted home­town. But they do have one big thing in com­mon: They love the food in Philly, from out-of-the-way pizza joints to stal­wart din­ing ex­pe­ri­ences like Bud­dakan. Fresh off a char­ity fash­ion show for Big Broth­ers Big Sis­ters, Celek and Mcleod donned suits in­stead of uni­forms to talk to Philadelphia Style.

I al­ways knew I loved footWhen­more Brent­ball. es­pe­cially­but fa­voriteHe’s the I my watchedthan Celek:did Pitts­burghteam fa­voriteyou Notrea hobby? be­cause­both­all player Dame.the Steel­er­sknow game­sof of I liked Jeromethatall were time. grow­ingthe foot­ballmy Bet­tis. Ea­glesI start­edup, was play­ingschool. touch­down Dur­ingtight pass,end the as and firsta I fresh­manknew game thatI caugh­tin was high the a po­si­tionRod­ney Mcleod:I wanted to My play. mom al­ways made sure we did ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties, so I played foot­ball and bas­ket­ball, and ran track grow­ing up. I went to the Ju­nior Olympics for track and ran in the Penn Re­lays in high school. I en­joyed it but I knew foot­ball was where I wanted to be. I didn’t want to just run— I wanted to have a pur­pose be­hind it. Track has re­ally helped me on the field from a con­di­tion­ing stand­point. I’ve got a lot of miles on these legs.

What were your first im­pres­sions about Philadelphia? RM: I’m from the DC area so there are a lot of sim­i­lar­i­ties. I had only been to Philly once be­fore, but I had friends from here so I knew a lot about the city—like the cheeses­teaks. I still don’t have a fa­vorite. BC: Cincin­nati was like a ghost town com­pared to Philadelphia; I had never re­ally been to a ma­jor city be­fore. One of the first things that I heard was about the peo­ple, that it was a rougher, tougher city. And it turns out that it is. [Laughs] But I liked that. It’s changed me for the bet­ter.

HowRM: I’m are go­ingyou spend­ingto stay in the Philly off and sea­son? check out new restau­rants. I have a whole list on my phone. I’ve knocked a lot of tourist stuff off my bucket list al­ready: the Rocky steps, In­de­pen­dence Hall, the Lib­erty Bell. BC: My fam­ily and I are go­ing to a cabin in the Mid­west. I like to cook, so I’ll make ev­ery­thing from scratch, and read a lot. Be­ing a new dad is the great­est thing ever. My daugh­ter has re­ally changed how I see the world.

What’s one thing peo­ple might not know about you? RM: I’m the old­est of five broth­ers and sis­ters so I al­ways helped out grow­ing up, from mak­ing grilled cheese to chang­ing di­a­pers. BC: I’m an en­tre­pre­neur at heart. Real es­tate is my pas­sion so I’m get­ting more in­volved in that. And I’m work­ing with a lo­cal R&B artist, Guor­dan Banks, on his mu­sic ca­reer. Mu­sic is my other pas­sion.

Rod­ney Mcleod and Brent Celek in ac­tion at the Linc.

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