Ea­gles

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fun­da­men­tally con­ver­sa­tional as who would be his Open­ing Night quar­ter­back, the sit­ting Su­per Bowl MVP or Car­son Wentz, who had not yet been cleared to play af­ter knee surgery.

“No, not pub­licly,” he said, in a Sun­day press con­fer­ence he’d be cer­tain would go vi­ral. “Not pub­licly. I don’t do that. I don’t do it with any po­si­tion on this team. I will not do it.”

Less than 24 hours later, spoiler alert: He did it. Pub­licly.

“Af­ter con­sid­er­a­tion and every­thing and about the foot­ball team and this de­ci­sion, Nick Foles will be the starter Week 1,” he said. “My press con­fer­ence will be to­mor­row. I’ll an­swer ques­tions at that time, but I wanted you to hear it from me.

It is about the foot­ball team and the best in­ter­est of the 53. And Nick Foles will be my starter Week 1.”

He was po­lite, by the way, ad­ding, “thank you.” Hey, no prob­lem. The only prob­lem was that Ped­er­son was pro­tect­ing that in­for­ma­tion, and cre­at­ing a bit of a con­flict about the whole thing. By Mon­day af­ter­noon, of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Mike Groh was ac­knowl­edg­ing that he’d al­ready known of the de­ci­sion. So, ap­par­ently, had the play­ers, who were warned a day ear­lier not to let it slip, pos­si­bly even be­ing threat­ened with cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment. Said Lane John­son: “We may get a spank­ing.”

The idea: Keep every­thing in-house, be­hind the locked gates of the prac­tice com­pound. The start­ing quar­ter­back was for the Ea­gles to know and for every­one else to ask talk-show hosts about. And by Sun­day, Ped­er­son was find­ing a way to make that work by try­ing to char­ac­ter­ize the as­sem­bled me­dia sorts as im­pa­tient, de­mand­ing pests. And never mind that it was an NFL-sub­si­dized web­site that first leaked the truth that Foles was the Week 1 starter.

“First of all, I ap­pre­ci­ate you all putting words in my mouth this week,” he said. “There­fore, I’m not go­ing to dis­cuss it.”

He did every­thing but jam his in­dex fin­gers in his ears and make hum­ming noises.

“What’s the point of this?” he said. “It’s my de­ci­sion.”

That was the point. It was his de­ci­sion. And he turned some­thing that sim­ple into a con­flict. Fi­nally ad­mit­ting his se­crecy had a loose tie to an urge to be­fud­dle the At­lanta Fal­cons, as if they don’t fi­nance enough as­sis­tant coaches to pre­pare for two quar­ter­backs, Ped­er­son didn’t have to be so se­cre­tive. That Open­ing Night op­por­tu­nity to roll onto the field for a stand­ing ova­tion be­longed to Foles any­way. He won that in the Su­per Bowl. Foles, in fact, should have been a lit­tle irked that he had to go through Ped­er­son’s lit­tle game be­fore be­ing given the start­ing job.

But that’s not the Ea­gles’ way. The Ea­gles’ way is to bold-face their en­e­mies and, short of that, in­vent some. That’s what Ped­er­son did this week, at a time when a world­cham­pi­onship team should have been above it all. Ah, what­ever works for them. Just have the Gatorade ready in Week 1. Save some for later, too.

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