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.


McLeods Discuss "I Am" Youth Leadership Summit, Men's Health

By Jennifer McGraw, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

Though he’s no longer representing the midnight green, former Eagles safety, Rodney McLeod, and his wife Erika’s heart, and foundation, belong to the city of brotherly love.

Their foundation, Change Our Future, is staying in Philadelphia after starting up during the pandemic to continue serving its mission of bringing youth empowerment, health and wellness, community empowerment and education and career resources to its youth. The McLeods are also working to expand Change Our Future to other cities, especially with Rodney playing for the Colts next season, but for the most part, the foundation has held ground in Philadelphia.

“I think it’s important for us to keep Change Our Future existing here in Philly as well as some of the other programs that we’ll touch on, but we felt as though being here for six years, Philadelphia became home for us,” Rodney said.

Besides keeping the foundation in Philadelphia, they also hosted their first “I Am” Youth Leadership Summit at the Community College of Philadelphia on Tuesday, June 28. This all-day event allowed rising tenth and eleventh-grade students to learn what it means to be a leader and their true selves.

The event featured numerous workshops such as leadership definition, self-confidence building and perfecting your pitch. The workshops led to a networking event for the students to engage and connect with each other using the skills they learned during the day.

“I just think that it’s very important that we need to connect the dots in terms of saying something and putting it into action and I think that the leadership summit, they’re gonna learn how to stand out amongst their peers and work alongside different peers in their community may be that they have not come across paths yet,” Erika said.

The leadership summit being held at the Community College of Philadelphia gave the students the perfect opportunity to explore potential college life.

“These opportunities to literally touchdown on a college campus and start taking classes to help elevate [the students] academic resumes. So, we use the youth leadership summit we’re going to pair it alongside the other programs that we’re going to be starting.” Erika said.

One of the programs the McLeods will be kicking off in the fall is Rodney’s mentorship program called, “Next Man Up.” This program will help eliminate the systemic gaps that have existed in the Black community, specifically with African men.

“Having a male role model in front of them that looks just like them to be able to address various subjects from financial literacy to human behavior to life choices to entrepreneurship and philanthropy. We’re building this well-rounded gentleman,” Rodney said.

The students participating in the “Next Man Up” program will also reap the benefits for their well-being. Since June is Men’s Health Awareness Month, Rodney also shared advice about reaching out for physical or mental help.

“I think it’s huge that we recognize us as men and everybody to tap in and be more health-conscious when it comes to your overall wellbeing, mentally and physically,” Rodney said. “As men, we’re very dominant creatures and alphas. Often, it’s hard for us to come out and express how we truly feel. I’m working on that to be more expressive myself,”

Some of the tools that Rodney uses for overall well-being include taking time to unwind and not being afraid to reach out for help.

“Finding time for self and being able to sit and unwind in silence and just reflect with so much going on, I think that’s just important,” he said.

Adding onto the fact that he is also an athlete, Rodney shared that people should be more considerate of differentiating “the athlete” from “the person.” One of the tips he likes to share with other athletes is to explore other passions and interests besides playing football.

“Often we are identified based on what we do by our jersey number or classified as these warriors and understanding that at the end of the day we are humans. We bleed the same way that everybody else does,” Rodney said. “We have our own concerns, problems and issues just like the next and so I think it’s important for people to respect that as well.”

With the second annual Sneaker Ball around the corner, the McLeods expressed their appreciation for how much they were able to raise last year, but also how they’d love to have more like-minded people supporting the Change Our Future mission.

“I think for us we are very humbled by what we were able to receive last year from so many gracious people of the Philadelphia community and it speaks to the hearts and minds of so many out here who are passionate about the same things that Erika and I are standing up for and addressing,” Rodney said.

“We’re a family at Change Our Future, we want to encourage more people to get involved to find their passions through maybe one of the programs that we’re offering,” Erika said.

To get involved, visit the Change Our Future website. From there, the McLeods talked about how people can donate financially, but also how people can get involved in the many programs they will be starting up in the fall and into 2023.

The Change Our Future duo will host their second annual Sneaker Ball on July 7, 2022, from 7-10 p.m. at the Vie in Philadelphia. Tickets can be purchased on the foundation website.


Rodney McLeod Goes to the Colts, Tyrann Mathieu Talks Linger

By Jennifer McGraw, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

Late Friday afternoon, multiple Twitter sources announced that Philadelphia Eagles safety and co-founder of the "Change Our Future" foundation, Rodney McLeod would be heading to the Indianapolis Colts.

Though McLeod was not a major big-name player on the team, he aided in a lot of the Eagles' success over the years, including leading them to their first Super Bowl win in the 2017 season. He was signed as an undrafted free agent by the St. Louis Rams in 2012, but four short years later, he landed in Philly and hasn't looked back.

Over the course of his six years on the Eagles, McLeod had 11 interceptions for 147 yards, four forced fumbles, 347 tackles, 239 solos and eight tackles for loss. At the end of the 2021 season, McLeod had two remarkable back-to-back interceptions that helped make it easier for the team to get into the playoffs. 

McLeod had major success on the field and has been a consistent asset to the Eagles' defense, but maybe some of his greatest achievements off the field bloomed from his work with the Philadelphia community.

Rodney and his wife, Erika, both founded the "Change Our Future" foundation after finding love for giving back in St. Louis.

"It started in the community there, getting involved, that's something that was always a part of Erika and I," said Rodney in a previous interview.

The two were excited to come to Philadelphia as it made sense with their location and jobs. The McLeods found a love of the city and always got to work on giving a voice to the voiceless. As Philadelphia youth struggle with educational inequality, lack of school funding, career resources and mentors, the McLeods worked to create something that would address those issues.

The McLeods started the "Change Our Future" foundation at the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic to do exactly just that.

"We're proud to bring attention to the issues that matter most to us and the footprints we want to leave behind," Rodney said.

Another issue they addressed, with the help of the Philadelphia Eagles organization, was gun violence.

"What keeps me encouraged is that [the youth] want to get out and do something about it. They want to use their voice for good," Rodney said.

One of the ways the McLeods raised money for the foundation was through their Sneaker Ball in December of last year. Those in attendance could get dressed up and rock their favorite pair of sneakers. It was a night of donating toys, sneakers and money that would go directly back to the children.

The 2021 Sneaker Ball raised over $250,000.

Though there will be an adjustment to not seeing Rodney McLeod in the midnight green in the upcoming season, Eagles fans are taking this news as a sign that Tyrann Mathieu will be the new defensive asset. There have been multiple talks of the Eagles pursuing the former Chiefs safety.

If the deal can get done to get Mathieu in midnight (or kelly) green, this would be one of the most impactful Eagles offseason moves this year so far.

 


Eagles Owner Provides Updates on Franchise Future, Brings Back Kelly Green Uniforms

By Jennifer McGraw, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

After a 14-month hiatus, Philadelphia Eagles owner, Jeffrey Lurie, spoke with the media on Tuesday to discuss important updates about the draft, Jalen Hurts and the long-awaited (sort of) return of the classic Kelly green uniforms. Lurie spoke during the NFL owners meeting in Palm Beach, Fl.

Eagles fans shared excitement for both the present and future. The team, coming off of a 9-8 season spilling into a Wild Card game, is transitioning out of its "rebuild" year and heading towards a hopeful success in the future. 

The future begins with the NFL Draft. The Eagles have three first-round picks which will aid in their rebuild. Fans and media alike had countless discussions about what the Eagles' front office will do with their picks, whether it be another quarterback or to build on the defense that struggled this past season. Lurie mentioned that he has become "less involved" in the draft.

"I really believe in who we have in the building and I’m very trusting of different departments that we have," Lurie said. "I would say if anything the last few years I’ve taken a little more of a backseat."

In terms of Lurie's trust in the front office, he addressed whether the picks in the drafts in recent years have been "hits" or "misses." He backed the contract extension of Eagles general manager, Howie Roseman. The deal runs through 2025.

"Obviously, over the last five years, we’ve been in the playoffs four of the past five years, we won a Super Bowl. He’s really good at building a roster, and re-building a roster, and he’s very, very well-regarded in the league.” Lurie said on supporting Howie Roseman.

Though Lurie took a backseat in the draft in recent years, he did talk about drafting J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.

"I know some of you thought I was trying to pick J.J. or whatever, no, that was not the case," Lurie said. "There was a tie between J.J. and Parris [Campbell] in that room and they said to me flippantly, who do you want? And I said hey, these are both red star players, that means A-plus character, you’ve got my blessing whatever way you want to go, and I think they went probably based on injury risk, Parris had some soft-tissue injury risk."

Lurie also discussed that the draft process is incredibly intense. Each draft prospect is analyzed from every angle possible, and while being timed on making a decision, the draft can be a stressful process.

In recent months, the Eagles have been closely watched to see if the team would dive into further talks of trading for a veteran quarterback, such as Deshaun Watson. He talked about how he downplayed his role in giving the "green light" on players but did not comment on Watson when asked.

"We have a policy that we will do our due diligence on every player," Lurie said. "You've got to do your due diligence. There's so much information about every player."

Lurie also talked about the return of the Kelly green uniforms, which will be the team's alternatives starting in 2023. During the 2022 season, the team will also have black helmets to complement their black-on-black uniforms. 

Though the Eagles have a lot of work to do this offseason, it seems pretty certain that the front office is all in on doing what they can to get the Birds back to another Super Bowl.

 

 


Former Head Coach Doug Pederson Hired by Jaguars

By Jennifer McGraw, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

After finishing 4-11-1 and ending his coaching career with the Eagles last offseason, former head coach, Doug Pederson, was reportedly hired by the Jacksonville Jaguars on Wednesday, February 3.

Pederson spent five seasons with the Eagles, where he helped lead the team to a Super Bowl win in the 2017 season. In his time with the Eagles, he had a 42-37-1 record. 

His future with the Eagles was cut short after the losing record in the 2020 season. After benching former quarterback Carson Wentz for the Eagles starter, Jalen Hurts, it seemed that the relationship turned negative - though justified due to Wentz's poor performance in what would soon be his last season with the team as well.

Pederson gained criticism for his decisions throughout the season, particularly with the deemed "quarterback controversy" between Wentz and Hurts. Reports also came out that claimed Pederson clashed with the Eagles front office, possibly prompting his decision to move on from the team.

Pederson will have a change of scenery in Jacksonville. He will be coaching a young quarterback, and the young team overall, to a hopeful victory next season. In return, the team will have a head coach with experience leading a disciplined team to a Super Bowl. Pederson created an aggressive play-calling identity in Philadelphia, something that fans didn't see much of this season. Being able to maximize Jaguars QB, Trevor Lawrence's full potential will be the forefront of what the head coach does as the team gears up for the next season.

The Philadelphia Eagles will host the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2022 season. Philadelphia will also face off against the Indianapolis Colts in the upcoming season, where Carson Wentz is currently playing.


Eagles Guard Brandon Brooks Announces Retirement

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By Jennifer McGraw, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

Philadelphia Eagles guard, Brandon Brooks, officially announced his retirement Tuesday morning in a press conference. Brooks helped the Eagles win their first Super Bowl in 2017 during his six years with the team. The 3x Pro-Bowl and Super Bowl LII Champion expressed gratitude towards his family, coaches, fellow teammates, and fans in his opening statement.

"I would like to thank my family for all of their love and support," Brooks said as he started to list off all of the people he is thankful for in helping him in his career. Besides the plentiful amount of Eagles coaches, players, and staff he thanked, he also gave a shout out to the Houston Texans organization.

Brooks joined the NFL in 2012 as a third-round draft pick to the Houston Texans. He started with the Texans for three seasons before signing with Philadelphia in 2016 as a free agent. The 6-foot-5, 335-pound beast was an incredible asset to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Though Brooks was a tremendous athlete on the field, he did a lot of work off the field to bring light to mental health awareness off the field. Following a game against the Seattle Seahawks in 2019, Brooks released a statement on Twitter following the reason he could not finish playing, alluding to his struggles with his anxiety. Brooks was diagnosed in 2016. According to Forbes, after seeing a psychologist in once a week, Brooks "went more than 2 seasons without missing a game." His inspiration paved the way for fans, and fellow teammates, such as offensive tackle Lane Johnson, to share their stories as well.

Brooks attributed a reason for his retirement being the way his injuries in recent years, as well as his age, contributing to his decision to retire.

"Lastly, to the city and the fans, I was extremely fortunate to help bring a championship to the city, have multiple Pro-Bowls appearances, but none greater than having the honor of being an Eagle," said Brooks.

"Since day one you've had my back and supported me through my ups and downs by sending love and support through my struggles. You will always be family to me. Though I may no longer play, I will always be an Eagle forever." Brooks said.


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

Continue reading "Eagles-Giants Preview" »


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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