“Donovan McNabb said it. Brian Dawkins said it.
Year after year, decade after decade, NFL players land at training camp and make bold proclamations about winning a Super Bowl or bust.
Of course, only one team will make good on such a declaration.
But there was tight end Brent Celek, the Eagles‘ newly crowned leader, saying it Thursday upon his and the rest of the veterans’ arrival at Lehigh University.
“If I didn’t think we could win the Super Bowl I wouldn’t be standing here,” Celek said as he stood outside the dorms that house the Eagles during camp. “I would take my butt back home and sit on my couch because all this is for nothing.
“We’re out here to win a ring, and 31 [other] teams around the NFL are here to do the same thing. We have just as good a shot as everyone else, and we’re here to prove it.”
Some may argue with the “just as good a shot as everyone else” part of Celek’s statement. But the sentiment is notable as a young team looks to find its footing. McNabb, Dawkins, and Brian Westbrook are no longer here (in case you haven’t heard). That core group brought the Eagles and the city of Philadelphia much glory, but it did not bring a Lombardi trophy.
The new era, with Kevin Kolb replacing McNabb under center, Celek as the vocal, Dawkins type, and wide receiver DeSean Jackson as the Westbrook-like playmaker, is upon us.
“There are no excuses,” said safety Quintin Mikell, one of the few leftovers from the Eagles team that last reached the Super Bowl, in February 2005. “We were young [last year] and that wasn’t an excuse. Just like this year it’s not an excuse. It wasn’t an excuse last year when [McNabb] said it.”
But McNabb did say it – “We showed our youth today,” the quarterback said once after a loss – and it rubbed some of the younger players the wrong way. This group is even younger. The average age is 24.1 years.
After McNabb’s trade to Washington and Kolb’s promotion, Jackson, 23, called the core group on offense – Kolb (25), Celek (25), wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (22), and running back LeSean McCoy (22) – the “Young Guns.”
“There’s been a lot of talk,” Mikell said. “We’ve been talking all off-season about this youth movement. A lot of guys have been saying, ‘It’s time for the youth.’ Well, now it’s time to put up or shut up.””