Time for party to end and work to begin
Pederson, Eagles shifting focus from Super Bowl to 2018 season
PHILADELPHIA » The Lombardi Trophy paraded down Broad Street through 700,000 fans to the Art Museum.
It brought luck to the Wells Fargo Center before a critical professional basketball game and more recently appeared on stage at Lincoln Financial Field for a Kenny Chesney concert, of all things.
It’s been one noisy Super Bowl LII championship celebration after another for the Eagles, who defeated the hated New England Patriots four months ago in Minneapolis. One endless party after another. Until Tuesday. That’s when Eagles head coach Doug Pederson put an expiration date on the frivolity. By his calculations it will be time to lock the trophy in the cabinet, put the big boy pants on and go back to work at “12:01 a.m. June 15th.”
Eagles minicamp ends that afternoon and the private Super Bowl ring ceremony premiers that evening.
Pederson isn’t trying to be a
“It’s a great opportunity for us this season, a great motivating factor for us to sort of rip off the dog masks and no longer be the underdog but now be the hunted, have the target on our back.”
– Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson on his team’s approach as defending Super Bowl champions.
party pooper. He bristled when asked when the Eagles would put the fun in the rearview mirror and move on. How could you? Thanks for stopping by.
“Honestly, after the ring ceremony, to me, we put that to bed, we put that to rest and we move on to 2018,” Pederson said. “Listen, we always are going to remember. I was at two events yesterday. The city is on fire. Its’ great. I love it. Fans are excited and they should be. But for us we’ve got to focus on 2018 and get ready for training camp. When we come back July 25, in two weeks we’re playing a football game. That’s our focus.”
Pederson hadn’t addressed the championship hoopla much until Tuesday, the start of the Eagles’ three-day minicamp. It’s not much fun coming across as some grumpy bartender flashing the lights to get the attention of patrons, only to tell them it’s last call.
Somewhere between the double-talk that Nick Foles would be the team’s starting quarterback if the season began today, but that could change in September if Carson Wentz is healthy, and after clarifying that the No. 1 goal of this, and all minicamps is “to avoid injury,” Pederson provided an earthy, inspirational explanation of the challenge facing the Eagles at his Tuesday presser. It resonated with so much imagery you almost wanted to copyright it.
“It’s a great opportunity for us this season, a great motivating factor for us to sort of rip off the dog masks and no longer be the underdog but now be the hunted, have the target on our back,” Pederson said. “We have to embrace it and use it as sort of a motivation to get back to that game and to do it for the guys who didn’t have an opportunity to play in that game last year.”
Publicly, that’s about as good as it gets for Pederson. Rip off the dog masks? It sounds like one of his pre-Super Bowl pep talks. Be the hunted, have the target on our backs? On an inspirational level, that would get a nod from any warm-blooded athlete.
Defending a Super Bowl title isn’t new territory for Pederson. He backed up Brett Favre when the Green Bay Packers defeated the Patriots in SB XXI in the 1996 season. The group reached the title game again the following year only to be defeated by John Elway and the Denver Broncos, who won the first of back-to-back titles. Pederson has been there. His team just hasn’t done that.
Moving on from the euphoria with all the Super Bowl remembrances scattered throughout the NovaCare Complex isn’t going to be easy. You bump into at every turn.
“It’s going to be part of our fabric, part of our history here in Philadelphia, part of the Eagles’ organization obviously,” Pederson said. “And I want guys to remember. I think it’s about the journey that we took, to see a Super Bowl LII logo on the wall.”
You know that line about the journey beginning with the first step? Doug Pederson took it Tuesday.
You could argue that this is a pretty convenient time to put an end to the Super Bowl celebrations. A quick look at the events docket at Lincoln Financial Field, the venue where Pederson, owner Jeffrey Lurie, Wentz and Zach Ertz, among others, recently marched the Lombardi Trophy around on stage at the Chesney concert, shows only Taylor Swift checking in before the Eagles begin training camp. She’s not a football fan.
That said, Pederson deserves credit for having the guts to say it’s about time to move on.
No shoes, no shirt and no problems, to borrow a Chesney tune.
Let the title defense begin.
Eagles head coach Doug Pederson looks on during the team’s OTA practice last week. Come Friday when the Eagles get their championship rings, it’s time for the party to end and for the team to get back to work, Pederson said.