1. Joe Banner enjoys the thug life. Or at least hearing about it from a safe distance. On his bio, Banner lists Eminem among the artists who can be found on his iPod, alongside the likes of Dan Fogelberg, James Taylor and Usher. I have yet to catch Banner coming through the gates of the NovaCare Complex with shades on and base shaking the ground beneath him, but it is why I get up in the morning.
2. Howard Mudd is the baddest man on the planet.
You may have read the legends on @HowardMuddFacts, or heard of his travels across the world by hog, but nothing sums up the high level of bad ass-ness quite like this: Due to a bum hip that he eventually had replaced, the 70-year-old Mudd rode from point-to-point on the practice field via golf cart last season, a vehicle the media fondly named “The Muddmobile.” On a hot August day following practice last year, the offensive line coach was riding shotgun in the Muddmobile when something went terribly wrong. The driver came to a quicker-than-expected halt as he approached the building entrance, sending Mudd flying out of the side of the cart. Mudd hit the ground, did a full front somersault and then rose to his feet, all in one motion. After a quick quip to the nearby reporters, suggesting we wanted him dead, he walked inside as if nothing happened.
I will now believe any story I hear about the man.
3. Alex Henery’s first job was as a pool boy. This makes perfect sense for some reason. Many know that Jon Dorenbos is a magician and Danny Watkins fought fires, but here are a couple lesser-known resume details:
• Brandon Graham worked the grill at McDonald’s.
• Brent Celek was a janitor at his uncle’s motorcycle shop.
• Nnamdi Asomugha was a cashier at a pharmacy.
• Darryl Tapp cut lawns.
• Riley Cooper mucked stalls in the horse barns at his house in Clearwater.
4. Antonio Dixon is one of the greatest stories in the sport. Dixon spent much of his childhood in and out of homeless shelters. He went to about 10 different middle schools. His father was recently released from prison after serving 17 years for drug trafficking. He suffered from dyslexia, and still deals with a significant stuttering problem.
He used football to get a degree from the University of Miami and eventually latched on with the Eagles after going undrafted and being cut by the Redskins. He uses his paychecks to support his family.
With stiff competition at defensive tackle, you should be rooting for Dixon to find a home, whether it is in Philadelphia or elsewhere.
5. The coaches are crazy. We’ve all heard stories about the ridiculous amount of hours that head coaches rack up in the NFL. The insane schedule trickles all the way down the ladder. A recent conversation with an Eagles coach near the bottom of the totem pole really drove the point home.
From top to bottom, the staff logs 18-hour days during the season. The beginning of the week is the worst while the game plan is being installed. The days start around 3:30 or 4 a.m. and last until perhaps 11 at night. Sleepovers are not at all unusual. They get out of the NovaCare a little bit earlier the closer it gets to Sunday, giving them enough time to go home, say hello to the family and get in a couple hours of shut-eye. Then it’s back to the grind.
As Banner often points out, pimpin’ ain’t easy.