Reunions in sports are extremely popular among fan circles. Die-hard fans of teams are suckers for nostalgia when it comes to former players that became icons with that city. Seeing a player “come home” when perhaps they left too soon is always met with a feel-good vibe to it.
Just look at LeBron James who was vilified for choosing Miami over Cleveland in 2010 and then became a hero after he returned to Cleveland in 2014 and won a championship two years later.
The typical one-day contract reunions for players that are announcing their retirement is a popular tradition but rarely do you see a player still at the top of their abilities, that has moved on to another team, find their way back to the original stomping grounds.
In Philadelphia however, the Eagles have pulled this off three teams in only two years. The fact that Nick Foles, Jordan Matthews, and DeSean Jackson all were over-joyed to return to the city of brotherly love is a true testament to the culture the Eagles and the city has established.
Each circumstance is different but all three players had to part ways with Philadelphia because of the team’s decision to either trade or release them.
Chip Kelly traded Nick Foles away for Sam Bradford clearly telling Foles that he wasn’t good enough to be the guy. Foles nearly ended his career after a disastrous 2015 with the St. Louis Rams
A year prior, Kelly released DeSean Jackson after six-dominating years with the Eagles. He was coming off a career year in 2013 but Kelly didn’t like Jackson and believed the system was the reason for the receiver’s success. Some even believe that Kelly’s fingerprints were on the NJ.com story about Jackson having ties with gangs.
As for Jordan Matthews, the Eagles traded him away a month before their 2017 Super Bowl season began after adding Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith in the offseason.
All three decisions were made by the organization. Not the players. And yet all three were more than willing to come back to Philadelphia.
That is a true testament to the bond these players formed with the city’s passion for the Eagles, and the culture that Andy Reid, Howie Roseman, and now Doug Pederson have established.
Unlike Kelly, Reid and Pederson knew that emotional intelligence is key to grabbing the commitment of a locker room. There may not be a more player-friendly culture in the league. The players have a sense of ownership and can have a personality which Kelly seemed to absolutely despise.
Not only off the field but on the field too. So many coaches force players to mold around their scheme. The Eagles have made a knack for maximizing what a players’ strengths are.
It is why Nick Foles was able to rally the Eagles to a Super Bowl victory two seasons ago, and have the best statistical playoff performance in NFL history. How many coaches would go into the film of the former coach and take plays from him that Foles was comfortable in?
It is also why Jackson has been clamoring for a reunion with the Eagles since 2016. He never wanted to leave in the first place.
— Kyle Bennett (@KBizzl311) March 11, 2019
Not only these three players have pursued a second stint with the Eagles. Jeremy Maclin nearly rejoined the team twice the last two seasons.
LeSean McCoy has never really detached from the team since he was traded in 2015.
The culture in Philadelphia is what players want to be a part of. There were Eagles players just last year discussing how pending free agents texted them about wanting to play for Pederson and the organization.
These reunions are just another example of how the Eagles were able to get back to their winning ways both on and off the field after the departure of Chip Kelly.
Impact of paying a QB
On today’s Locked on Eagles podcast:
Does paying a QB big money hold a team back from contention?
What does history tell us?
Is the concern about paying any player this amount of money or is it about Wentz himself?
Ranking the roster
On today’s Locked on Eagles:
Are the Eagles and Carson Wentz about to get a deal done?
Is Joe Douglas the next Jets GM?
Ranking the Eagles positions from strongest to weakest
On today’s Locked on Eagles podcast:
Where do the starting quarterbacks in the NFL belong based on tiers?
Where is Carson Wentz among the other 31 starters?
How many “elite” QBs are there?