Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A tribute to Brent Celek

What happened at last night's Sixers game tells you everything you need to know about Philly sports fans.

No, not the fact that the Sixers kept turning the ball over in a disappointing loss to the Pacers.

I'm talking about something that happened before the game.

Brent Celek was in the house.

The longest-tenured athlete in Philadelphia had been released earlier in the day by the Eagles, who continue to retool their Super Bowl-winning roster.

Fans rose to their feet and offered the veteran tight end a lengthy standing ovation.

You could see on Celek's face how much it meant to him.

I hope he understands how much he meant to Eagles fans.

There was nothing Celek would not do for this team. Over his 11-year career, Celek always put the team above his personal interests, in the process probably sacrificing his own personal stats - and the ability to turn those stats into a more lucrative contract.

When the Birds' offensive line was a shambles, Celek never made a peep when he was asked to do more blocking than receiving.

He never raised his voice when asked to share time with other tight ends. When Zach Ertz arrived and had "the future" stamped all over him, no dissent was ever voiced by Celek.

His veteran presence in the locker room was part of the foundation of a very special team that had a very special year. But it was something Celek said before the season that always stuck with me.

He told his young teammates about how the team made it to the NFC Conference Championship early in his career. He just assumed they would get back for years to come. Never happened. There are no guarantees.

The team played that way this year.

I'm glad Celek was able to get a ring, a fitting end to a stellar career with the Eagles.

And I'm even more happy that Philly fans showed him just how much he meant to them before the Sixers game last night.


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