Jul 31, 2011, 12:12 PM EDT
A look at why Nnamdi Asomugha picked the Philadelphia Eagles and what it tells us about the organization, from ownership to current players.
Listening to the words of the new Eagles and watching the front office move swiftly to sign the players it wants this week, we may be entering a new era in public perception of the ownership, management, and head coach. A winning organization for more than a decade of the Lurie/Banner/Reid regime, the team has had plenty of support in Philadelphia. They’ve also had detractors though, for a number of reasons, among them a perceived smugness and contentedness without the benefit of a Super Bowl, as well as a ridiculous notion that they’re somehow cheap. There have been some missteps and poor PR moments along the way, and we’re still without that Lombardi Trophy, but it’s not for lack of effort on the franchise’s part, and you need look no further than the beaming smile and silver-tongued words of newly signed Nnamdi Asomugha to see how they are perceived around the league.
To say the All-Pro corner was well-spoken and seemingly wise beyond his years is an understatement. Asomugha spoke highly of the Eagles, commenting that they were his top choice all along, and was complimentary of his new teammates as well as those he left behind in Oakland. It sounds simple enough, but he really was that great in his debut.
He even found a way to namedrop President Bill Clinton, and somehow do it casually while talking about the work of his foundation. The Eagles’ commitment to community was a factor in his decision to come to Philadelphia, as was the quality of their product on the field. So too was their commitment to winning and the quality of the organization from ownership to players.
One of my favorite moments from Nnamdi’s first presser as an Eagle (and there were a lot of them) came when he was addressing what his number would be when he puts on the Midnight Green. It won’t be the 21 he wore in Oakland, because that number is already taken in Philadelphia.
“It’s not the biggest deal, obviously I’ve had 21 my entire professional career, which has been great. But, [Joselio] Hanson has been here, and he’s had it. I’m not gonna come in here and start trying to take over everything. He’s been on this team, he’s been here.” Nnamdi asked Hanson, “Does it mean something to you?” and Hanson said, “Yeah, it does.”
That, said Asomugha, was all he needed to hear. “We don’t have to go into money, ‘Let me buy it from you.’ Let’s move on. It’s the jersey number.”
And with that, Nnamdi will don the number 24. (Excuse me while I go get my next Eagles authentic.)
Despite Asomugha being the most sought after free agent on the NFL market this year and now the most talented player on the Eagles defense, he showed respect for a player that’s already on the roster, putting no pressure on Hanson to give up the number he’s worn here. That was just a brief glimpse into what was an outstanding first meeting with the media for Asomugha as a Philadelphia Eagle.
Nnamdi also led credence to the widespread belief that he left money on the table in order to accept the Eagles’ offer, mostly for the reasons listed above regarding his impressions of the organization. Love the regime or hate it, their standards and practices were perhaps the biggest factor in landing one of the best corners in the game, if not the absolute best. Even the two star players currently looking for a raise from the team—Desean Jackson and Michael Vick—worked hard to sell Asomugha on coming to Philadelphia. Pretty telling that even with a holdout looming, DJacc was pushing for some of the cap space to be spent on a star other than himself this summer.
This season can’t start soon enough. The team is looking increasingly outstanding on paper, and we’re eager to see if it plays out on the field. The organization still has a massive hurdle to clear…
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