Eagles Will Have Difficult Time Replacing Peters
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — Jason Peters is the godfather of the Eagles, a 6-foot-4, 330-pound bear of a man who holds court in the back of the team's locker room, almost like the South Philadelphia version of the Ravente Social Club.
And like any "Don" whether the Teflon variety like John Gotti or the gentle type like Philly's own Angelo Bruno, Peters' followers speak with reverence anytime the big man's name is mentioned.
You're not given that type of respect, it's earned and unlike the mobsters who made their bones through intimidation, extortion and even murder Peters took a more positive path through life, one that has earned him nine Pro Bowl nods on the football, five All-Pro honors and a free pre-programmed GPS with the coordinates to Canton programmed in.
Things didn't look good for Peters when he went down in a heap early in the third quarter of the Eagles' 34-24 win over the Washington Redskins. The entire team gathered around their leader as he was about to be carted off and the Lincoln Financial Field faithful chanted his name.
There was some optimism as a Tuesday MRI loomed, a belief that Peters' right ACL was intact and that the veteran only damaged his MCL, a scenario that could have enabled Peters to return later in the season.
The imaging, however, delivered the worst possible news. Peters had indeed torn both his ACL and MCL and at the age of 35, his football mortality is now in question.
The loss is obviously significant as is the one to middle linebacker Jordan Hicks, who succumbed to a torn Achilles on Monday.
"When you look at the injury list and the guys you lost -- Darren Sproles, Chris Maragos, J.P., Jordan Hicks -- guys that are significant starters and role players on your team, leaders of your football team, captains of your football team, it can make an impact," coach Doug Pederson admitted on Tuesday.
"One of the things that I've talked about and hopefully you guys have seen it with the team and talking with the players, it's definitely the next man up," the coach continued. "They rally around the guys that are hurt number one, support them but the bigger picture is that we have a lot of football left and we still have a game this Sunday and the season is not over. They continue to practice hard and play hard."
Peters, though, is a bit different, one of those leaders and team captains, a man owner Jeffrey Lurie has called his best friend, the top dog in a room filled with alpha males.
Carson Wentz explained Peters' impact of his teammates beautifully in his post-game press conference after the Eagles improved to an NFL-best 6-1.
"I mean the crowd was chanting his name. He is a legend around here," the MVP candidate said. "He is a future Hall of Famer. We love that guy. He means a lot to us."
Well, here's a good example:
"As we were going out, he was starting to tell Coach Stout [Offensive Line Coach Jess Stoutland], to tell Big V [RT Halapoulivaati Vaitai] a certain thing against a certain guy," Wentz said. "He didn’t even care [that he was injured], he was just trying to coach and just help us out to find a way to win. And that’s just the type of guy he is."
And that's also the type of guy the next man up simply can't replicate.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen