PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Doug Pederson walked out to a standing ovation from Eagles fans, forever grateful for the former coach’s role in leading the franchise to the 2017 season Super Bowl championship.
Pederson walked off the field without his Jaguars jacket.
Jason Kelce, the Eagles center and heart of that Super Bowl team, trudged to midfield after Philadelphia’s 29-21 win on Sunday and took the soggy coat from the second-year Jaguars coach. In lieu of the traditional jersey swap, Kelce made due with what counts as part of Pederson’s uniform.
“This is getting framed up, just like all the others,” Kelce said at his locker. “It’s a very prized possession right here.”
Kelce and fellow Super Bowl champion, tackle Lane Johnson, both became teary-eyed when they reunited with Pederson. He wasn’t just any coach that passes through an NFL player’s career.
He won the Eagles their only Super Bowl. He responded affirmatively when QB Nick Foles asked in the Super Bowl “You want Philly Philly?” Foles then caught a touchdown pass on fourth down, the Eagles won 41-33, and soon after — once the parade ended, and Kelce put away the Mummer’s costume, and city light poles no longer needed thick coats of grease to slow the delirious revelers — a statue went up of the QB and his coach outside Lincoln Financial Field.
Pederson might have had a different sideline view — his back was to the 2017 World Champions banner — but the bond with his former players remained as tight as it was that Feb. 4, 2108 night in Minneapolis.
“I spent a lot of my good years with Doug,” Johnson said. “I feel like he was the guy that was really instrumental in bringing me back from the abyss, so to speak. Any time I was down or needed an encouraging word, he was there. You miss him. Anybody who comes in and wins a championship and lays his heart on the line for the team, you have a tremendous amount of respect for.”
Johnson added, “He’s a hell of a coach, a hell of a person.”
Even Jalen Hurts, a second-round pick in Pederson’s final season, gave his old coach a big hug and thanked him “because you’re the reason I’m here. I have a lot of love and respect for him.”
The admiration was mutual.
“I just told him I was proud of him. I wished him well the rest of the season,” Pederson said. “And, you know, just how he’s really turned into the leader that we all thought he was going to be, and is. And I just wanted him to know that.”
Pederson went 42-37-1 in five seasons with the Eagles. He guided the Eagles to two division championships and three playoff appearances before going 4-11-1 in 2020. Pederson was fired less than three years after that Super Bowl win.
On a rainy Sunday in Philly, Pederson got his due.
As the fans cheered for Pederson, the camera cut to a shot on the big screens of the 2017 World Champions banner that hangs from the above the top deck at the Linc. Pederson mingled with some of his former players on the field before the game and was warmly greeted by stadium employees when he walked into the stadium.
“It’s my normal routine, just seeing guys,” Pederson said. “At the end of the day, I’ve got a job to do and get the Jags ready to play.”
And sure, his return to the Linc, where Pederson and the Eagles clinched the NFC championship in January 2018 with a 38-7 rout of the Minnesota Vikings, stirred some fond memories. Once the game started, well, not many new ones worth remembering came out of this trip.
“It’s just unfortunate for us,” Pederson said.
Pederson was on the sideline for another Eagles’ win.
Just the wrong one.
Trevor Lawrence fumbled four times and threw for only 174 yards. He was strip sacked on the final drive of the game when the Jaguars still had a last-gasp shot at pulling out the upset.
“We still had a a chance to win,” Lawrence said. “We still put together some great drives. We’ve got to finish.”
If Lawrence needs a reminder how to close out big games, Pederson has Super Bowl film to show him.
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