Eagles Enact Initiative to End Philadelphia Gun Violence

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By Jennifer McGraw, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

Though the Philadelphia Eagles are ecstatic about another year in the playoffs, the team is taking time to create an initiative for an ongoing issue in the Philadelphia community.

After a record-high homicides in 2021, the organization came together to enact a gun violence campaign on Tuesday, January 4, called, "End Philly Gun Violence." During press conferences on Tuesday, members of the team sported jackets and tee shirts with the message, "Enough Keeping Score, End Philly Gun Violence." 

One member of the team, Eagles safety Rodney McLeod, was particularly moved by this problem in the city. After signing with the team and moving to the city in 2016 as a free agent, McLeod immersed himself in the community. He and his wife, Erika, soon developed the "Change Our Future" foundation which aims to bring positive change to the youth in Philadelphia. Part of this change includes taking action against the gun violence Philadelphia youth face.

Their inaugural "Sneaker Ball" event was held in early December to raise money to give educational and empowerment resources to the youth.

Philadelphia's history with gun violence is nothing new, but in 2021, the city faced 562 homicides. These shooting occurred mostly in North and West Philadelphia, where there are a lot of low-income communities with little to no access to the necessities they need. According to the Philadelphia Center for Gun Violence Reporting, a disturbing majority of the gun violence victims (fatal and nonfatal) are 24 years of age or younger.

End Philly Gun Violence includes more than $316,000 in grant funding donated by the Eagles Social Justice Fund towards 32 different social justice non-profits. Besides McLeod, several Eagles serve on the council in this campaign, such as tight end Dallas Goedert and defensive end Brandon Graham. In addition to the campaign, the Eagles also shared a corresponding website for resources and more information about the initiative. The resources include different organizations that provide services for the Philadelphia community. The website will also have social media posts and public service announcements about the initiative as it continues to grow. This website was created in conjunction with the city of Philadelphia.

The website reads, "The City of Philadelphia is supporting people in every neighborhood to build a foundation forward for a way to give communities hope and a path out of violence. Reach for hope, instead of a gun. You are not alone. There is help. There are ways to drive positive change without feeling the need to "keep score."

“Unfortunately, some of these kids are seeing this happen to a neighbor or a block or two down from them here in Philadelphia and it’s sad and it’s disturbing,” said Rodney, in an interview in November regarding the gun violence issue.

The work towards ending gun violence in the city will not be easy, but the Philadelphia Eagles are proud to take on initiative as it is something many of its players are passionate about.


STP Staff Predictions: Eagles vs. Buccaneers

By STP Staff, Eagles Coverage on Sports Talk Philly

The Philadelphia Eagles (9-8) travel to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa to take on the defending Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-4) on Sunday at 1:00 PM.  The Eagles are an 8.5-point underdog on most betting sites and are a considerable underdog among media members. Find out if our contributors think the Eagles can pull off the upset and move on the NFC Divisional round. 

 

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Eagles-Buccaneers Preview

By Jennifer McGraw, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

The Philadelphia Eagles (9-8) are officially in the NFC Wild Card round! It was a hard season, but they came through at the right time to get into the playoffs. Philadelphia will head to Tampa Bay to face the defending Super Bowl Champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-4) in the first round of playoffs. The Eagles are coming off of a loss against the Dallas Cowboys (12-5) and the Buccaneers are coming off of a win against the Carolina Panthers.

Date: January 16, 2021

Where: Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida

When: 1:00 PM/Eastern

TV: FOX/NFL Network

Radio: 94.1 WIP and the Philadelphia Eagles Radio Network

Series History

The Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are tied in the all-time series 10-10-0.

Last Matchup

2021: The Eagles had a stretch of games against harder teams earlier in the season, and the Buccaneers did not let up. The Eagles were held to a total of 213 yards. Jalen Hurts was 12-of-26 for 115 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Miles Sanders had nine carries for 56 yards. On the other hand, Tom Brady was 34-for-42 for 297 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. Leonard Fournette had 22 carries for 81 yards and two touchdowns.

This Game at a Glance

Both teams are a lot different than when they first met earlier in the season. Lane Johnson and Dallas Goedert were out for the Eagles and Rob Gronkowski was out for the Buccaneers. Jordan Mailata played right tackle coming off of an injury. There were also only nine running back carries in the entire game. Now, both teams have evolved and are coming into this game as different teams. Jalen Hurts will make his first start in an NFL playoff game, as well as being the youngest in franchise history to do so.

There are a lot of exciting matchups to look out for, such as Mike Evans vs Darius Slay. Last time the Eagles and Bucs faced off, Evans only had two carries for 27 yards. The Bucs biggest receiver in that game? Antonio Brown, who is no longer with the team. The Eagles had two rushing touchdowns, both done by Jalen Hurts. Both teams have their strengths and weaknesses heading into this game, so it'll come down to who can manage the clock better and play clean, disciplined, and smart football.

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Eagles-Washington Football Team Preview

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By Jennifer McGraw, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

The Philadelphia Eagles (8-7) are on the road against a healthier Washington Football Team (6-9) than when the two teams faced off two week ago. The first time the two met, the COVID-ridden Washington team lost to Philadelphia, 27-17. Washington fell to the Dallas Cowboys (41-21) with a final score of 56-14. The Cowboys have clinched the NFC East prior to their win over WFT.

Date: January 2, 2021

Where: FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland

When: 1:00 PM/Eastern

TV: FOX/NFL Network

Radio: 94.1 WIP and the Philadelphia Eagles Radio Network

Series History

The Philadelphia Eagles lead the all-time series 88-80-6.

Last Matchup

2021: Philadelphia came back in the second half of their matchup against Washington to win the game, 27-17. Jalen Hurts was 20-of-26 for 296 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Miles Sanders had 18 carries for 131 yards.

This Game at a Glance

Every game counts for the Eagles. Tomorrow's game is a must win in any scenario to clinch a playoff spot. The Eagles are going to need to be on their A-game for tomorrow's game and not do the same thing they've been doing the past two games. Coming from behind in a second half comeback is not going to help if/when the Eagles get to the playoffs. That doesn't mean WFT will hand them the win, though. Though the team is close to elimination, they should still be wanting to win this game to keep the Eagles from making the playoffs.

Not only that, but this Washington team is a lot healthier than they were the first time they faced Philadelphia. With some of the key players back, the Eagles are going to need to step up. They almost lost the first time with a COVID-ridden Washington team, so playing against a close-to-normal team will be even harder.

Eagles Win if…

The Philadelphia Eagles need to correct the mistakes they've made in the past two games. With playoffs at stake and potential to go far, the team needs to  secure momentum within the first few minutes of the game. Washington has home field advantage this time, so the Eagles need to get to Landover and take care of business as if they were home. Philadelphia has bits and pieces of an explosive team, and all those pieces need to come together tomorrow in Jalen Hurts' most important game of the season thus far.

WFT Wins if…

Washington can win if they force Philadelphia to scramble and struggle. The team knows what's at stake, and the idea of playoffs will be in the back of their mind. The first few minutes of the game set the tone for each team. No matter if WFT's offense or defense is the first to get out on the field, they have to create pressure towards the Eagles and get them shaken up. The Eagles have a huge problem with being knocked off their momentum, so doing this and keeping the team struggling on both sides of the ball will help the WFT prevail.

Prediction: Eagles 28-21

I don't want to see the Eagles scoring in the second half alone. I want to see points in every. single. quarter. The team is very capable of doing this and getting themselves into the playoffs. I think WFT will make the Eagles work for their win.


Related Reading:
Injury Report: Eagles at Washington



Eagles-Giants Preview

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By Jennifer McGraw, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

The Philadelphia Eagles (7-7) are now at home facing the New York Giants (4-10) for their final time this season. Just a month ago, the two faced off at MetLife and New York won, 13-7. On Tuesday, the Eagles brought home a win over the Washington Football Team, 27-17, in a game that was a tale of two halves. The Giants fell to the Dallas Cowboys, 21-6.

Date: December 26, 2021

Where: Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA

When: 1:00 PM/Eastern

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Eagles-Washington Football Team Preview

By Jennifer McGraw, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

The Philadelphia Eagles (6-7) are back at home for their last stretch of NFC East division games in hopes of the last playoff position. They will face the Washington Football Team (6-7) who are currently in the playoffs, but almost half of the team is on the COVID/Reserve list. Philadelphia is coming off of their bye week, having won against the New York Jets (3-10) prior to that. Washington comes off of a close loss to division rivals, the Dallas Cowboys (9-4), with a final score of 27-20.

This game has been rescheduled from it's original date and time, Sunday, December 19, 2021 at 1:00 p.m., due to the Washington Football Team COVID-19 outbreak.

Date: December 21, 2021

Where: Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

When: 7:00 P.M./Eastern

TV: FOX

Radio: 94.1 WIP and the Philadelphia Eagles Radio Network

Series History

Washington leads the all-time record 88-80-6.

Last Matchup

2021: Washington Football Team clinched the NFC East title when they won on the road in Week 17 versus the Eagles, 20-14. Jalen Hurts went 7-for-20 for 72 yards, two rushing touchdowns, and one interception. WFT QB Alex Smith went 22-for-32 for 162 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions.

This Game at a Glance

This is a must-win game for both teams. Washington Football Team is plagued with injuries and COVID-19, so their secondaries are going to need to step up in these last stretch of games to continue keeping their playoff spot. The Eagles have the best shot of making the playoffs out of all of the 6-7 teams, so every game from here on out is a must-win. They’ve gotten back on track for a playoff push, now it’s a matter of continuing to execute as the next set of games are the most important.

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Eagles Rodney and Erika McLeod Host Inaugural Sneaker Ball

McLeods with BackGroundRodney and Erika McLeod pose for pictures.

By Jennifer McGraw, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

“Will someone donate $5,000 to adopt a school in Philadelphia for our youth?”

“Count me in.”

This was the kind of uplifting energy felt all evening at The Art and Sole: Sneaker Ball Toy Drive on Monday, December 6, 2021 in the Arts Ballroom in Philadelphia.

In an event where sneaker culture met philanthropy, Philadelphia Eagles safety Rodney McLeod, alongside his wife Erika McLeod, hosted their inaugural Sneaker Ball Toy Drive to raise money for the youth in Philadelphia.

This event is apart of the McLeods’ foundation, “Change Our Future,” which focuses on empowering the youth through education, advocacy and awareness. 

The evening kicked off with a red carpet where attendees could get their pictures taken, showing off their sneakers they wore for the event. Attendees donned fresh kicks to compliment their outfit. 

Some notable people to walk the red carpet include Eagles players Jordan Mailata, T.J. Edwards, Darius Slay and many others in support of their fellow teammate’s mission.

2From left to right, Anthony Harris, Steven Nelson, Rodney McLeod, Darius Slay, and T.J. Edwards pose for pictures.

“It’s a blessing, to be honest, just to see so many guys that I go to work with every single day committed to the cause, willing to step up to the plate,” said Rodney. “Guys like Jordan, Anthony, and a couple other guys stepped up and so many people around the building and that was on the floor stepped up here in the Philadelphia community, that’s what it’s all about.” 

Those in attendance could view the sneaker museum, which featured an array of colorful high-end sneakers. There were paintings and drawings up for bid as apart of the event’s silent auction. A bar, basketball area, and 3D selfies were open for attendees as well to enjoy.

3Shoes on display at the Sneaker Ball.

DJ Aktive, tour DJ producer for NBC “That’s My Jam,” brought the fun to the dance floor as attendees danced the night away.

Rodney and Erika gave a beautiful welcome speech to thank attendees and their honorary co-chairs - those who have been active in building the foundation and its message. The co-chairs each made significant strides in their community to help the message of “Change Our Future” grow. 

Following the welcome, the live auction began, which would go towards building a stronger future for the youth. The host for the evening, Quincy Harris, started bids at $5,000. This donation would go towards adopting a school in Philly so children would have a chance to get a quality education. Besides the live auction, guests had the opportunity to make donations virtually by scanning a QR code.

The first person to pledge was Eagles offensive tackle, Jordan Mailata. Other people, including Eagles players, followed suit. 

Another notable donation was from Senator Anthony Williams. Williams promised a two-year commitment of $50,000 to keep the foundation growing.

In accordance with health and safety guidelines, the event consisted of air purifiers from the sponsor “Sanalife.” Attendees had to share proof of COVID-19 vaccination status or a negative COVID test.

The “Change Our Future” co-founders exceeded their goal of raising $75,000; instead, they raised a total of $203,000. This money will go directly to helping the Philadelphia youth to benefit their future, starting with education and advocacy efforts.

4Rodney McLeod’s cleats on display, featuring his “My Cause, My Cleats” foundation to support, “Change Our Future.”

“We’re so thankful to see so many new faces in the room, faces that have supported us in the past, and we’re looking forward to seeing these people once again,” said Erika. “For us to come together for ‘Kids’ First’ to celebrate our first annual gala I think is going to be really great for events to come to see these faces and see them supporting us.”

“Now we need to do the same together, not only encouraging other people to get out and help our kids, but also to support our mission.” said Rodney.

For more information or where to donate, check out the Change Our Future Foundation website.


Eagles-Jets Preview

By Jennifer McGraw, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

The Philadelphia Eagles (5-7) head back to MetLife Stadium this time to face the New York Jets (3-8). Philadelphia is coming off of an upsetting loss to the New York Giants (4-7) with a final score of 13-7. New York is coming off of a win over the Houston Texans (2-9), 21-14. 

Date: December 5, 2021

Where: MetLife Stadium at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey

When: 1:00 PM/Eastern

TV: CBS

Radio: 94.1 WIP and the Philadelphia Eagles Radio Network

Series History

The Philadelphia Eagles lead the all-time series 11-0.

Last Matchup

2019: The Eagles beat the Jets 31-6 at Lincoln Financial Field in October. There were two defensive touchdowns, a touchdown from former Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, and a touchdown by Eagles running back Jordan Howard. The Jets were only able to put up six points thanks to their wide receiver, Vyncint Smith, with a 19-yard run.

This Game at a Glance

Gannon and Sirianni are back in the hot seat, but not all eyes are on them right now. Quarterback Jalen Hurts is a game time decision after suffering an ankle injury last week. As of Wednesday, Hurts noted in a press conference on Wednesday that he would be "ready to go" and it would be "business as usual" for him in preparation for the Jets. That is not the case, as NFL reporter Derrick Gunn said Hurts would be out and backup, Gardner Minshew, would be in. Last week, Hurts went 14-for-31 for 129 yards, no touchdowns, and three interceptions. Boston Scott had 15 carries for 64 yards and one touchdown.

This week, both teams are going to play to their offensive strengths, which means it'll be another battle on defense. Against the Texans, Jets quarterback Zach Wilson went 14-for-24 for 145 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception. He did get one rushing touchdown, as did running back Austin Walter, who had nine carries for 38 yards. Both teams are going to make magic happen in the red zone, so it'll be interesting to watch what defense can step up and hold the offense.

 

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Eagles Rodney and Erika McLeod Discuss Career, "Change Our Future"

By Jennifer McGraw, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

From undrafted free agent to Super Bowl LII champion, Rodney McLeod, along with his wife Erika McLeod, co-founder of the Change Our Future Foundation, work hard to give back to the youth in the Tri-State area.

Though Rodney is an exceptionally talented player on the field, with 426 career tackles and 154 assists, his charitable work with his wife is just as amazing.

Rodney McLeod landed in the NFL in 2012 when he signed with the St. Louis Rams. He discussed how the opportunity was both humbling and hard because of the uncertainty of how long an undrafted football player might be on a team.

Regardless of the circumstances, Rodney and Erika’s love of giving back to the community started in St. Louis.

“It started in the community there, getting involved, that’s something that was always apart of Erika and I,” said Rodney, on discussing Erika and his inspiration for giving back. “Because of who we are and how we both were raised, we just wanted to get out and make a difference.”

Four years later, he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, and the rest is history. In his second year with the team, the Eagles won Super Bowl LII.

Rodney discussed his excitement for coming to Philadelphia. He was able to be closer with his family in Maryland, as well as closer to Erika while she was working. He also noted that his hard work and drive propelled him into success in just a short period of time in the city of brotherly love. 

 

Continue reading "Eagles Rodney and Erika McLeod Discuss Career, "Change Our Future"" »


Eagles-Giants Preview

By Jennifer McGraw, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

The Philadelphia Eagles (5-6) are right up the road this week for an NFC East matchup against the New York Giants (3-7). Philadelphia is coming off of one of their biggest wins of the season against the New Orleans Saints (5-6) with a score of 40-29. The Giants had a tough loss on the road against the defending Super Bowl Champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3).

Date: November 28, 2021

Where: MetLife Stadium at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey

When: 1:00 PM/Eastern

TV: FOX

Radio: 94.1 WIP and the Philadelphia Eagles Radio Network

Series History

The Philadelphia Eagles lead the all-time series 89-87-2.

Last Matchup

2020: The Eagles lost to the Giants 27-17 at MetLife Stadium. Carson Wentz was still QB1 and 21-of-37 for 208 yards and zero touchdowns. Miles Sanders had 15 carries for 85 yards, and Boston Scott had three carries for 63 yards and one touchdown.

This Game at a Glance

It’s safe to say there are no tests for Gannon, Sirianni, or Hurts, but that doesn’t mean they should let up. The Eagles are in crunch time to get that last playoff spot. Every game matters.

After two of the biggest wins of the Eagles season in back-to-back weeks, the team is heading into a pretty stable last few weeks. The Eagles don’t have to fly anywhere the rest of the season and the team has stayed relatively healthy (minus Jordan Howard who is the only confirmed player out for Sunday due to knee injury.) Cornerback Tay Gowan is questionable. Darius Slay, who had an incredible 51-yard interception for a touchdown, cleared the concussion protocol and will play Sunday. The Giants, on the other hand, will be missing a few key players. Fullback Cullen Gillaspia is out with a calf injury, wide receiver Sterling Shepard is out with a quad injury - this is a huge loss on the Giants, and tight end Kaden Smith will be out with a knee injury.

Related Reading:
Injury Report: Eagles at Giants

Eagles Win if…

They play four quarters of football. The Eagles did play beautifully last week, putting up points in all four quarters, but they need to do better than to allow Saints to score 22 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. The Eagles won’t face much of a challenge this weekend, but they’re still going to need to play to their strengths and did what they did last week to pull out a win. With the Eagles being the number two running offense in the NFL at 153.4 yards per game, keeping the ball protected and on the ground is playing to the Eagles strength.

Giants Win if…

There’s a lot that the Giants need to do, but it’s not impossible. The Giants might not want to score early, and that’s okay because they’ve done really well in the fourth quarter of the three games the team has won. Tiring out the Eagles might be key, then put the final nail in the coffin in the fourth. Likewise with the Eagles, the Giants are also going to want to run the ball. Why? They want to keep the Eagles offense off the field and run up the play clock.

 

Prediction: Eagles 34-21

I have no doubt that the Eagles will start hot. Do we see a score on their opening possession? Maybe. I think two Hurts-to-Smith touchdowns will happen. Hurts is likely to run it in the end zone for the touchdown, as he did quite a few times last week. This might be a bold take, and I’m riding off of a high from last week, but I think we’ll see another pick six.