Mr. Ertz Goes to Paris
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — Zach Ertz raced out of the NovaCare Complex on Tuesday long before the open locker-room period, not exactly a common occurrence for the media-friendly Pro Bowl tight end.
There was no emergency or underlying issue, however. Ertz was given permission to leave early by his emotionally intelligent head coach Doug Pederson.
“Mr. Ertz” had bigger things on his mind, namely the United States’ first game in the Women’s World Cup.
Decked out in his USA shorts, Ertz made it to his couch on time to watch his wife, Team USA defender Julie Ertz, in a dominant 13-0 win over hapless Thailand.
With minicamp now in the rear-view mirror, Mr. Ertz joined the Mrs. in Paris this weekend in advance of Team USA's game against Chile.
“The return flight is after the final,” Ertz joked.
Coming off his record-setting 116-reception season and among the best tight ends in the NFL, Ertz's secondary role is as a support system for his wife, who is just as accomplished in her profession.
Ertz even played PR rep for the women who received some criticism for running up the score against Thailand, noting World Cup rules which state that goal differential is the top tiebreaker in the early group stage.
“It would be a crime for them to take their foot off the gas and then finish second in the group because they took their foot off the gas,” Ertz explained.
He also harkened back to the Eagles Super Bowl season where celebrations after big plays was a staple of the Eagles' success, building chemistry up and down the roster.
"When you're on a good team the best way to build team chemistry is seeing other people as happy for your success as they are for their own," Ertz said. "And seeing the girls celebrate they were for other people's success really I thought was crucial for them long term. Because you see how close these girls were getting."
"I think you saw it a couple of years ago with us when we were celebrating," he continued. "We really were just building that team chemistry because everyone was bonding through those moments. Everyone was seeing how happy everyone was for another person's success. I think that really speaks volumes about the camaraderie and team chemistry. So I had no issue with it obviously. I was actually for it."
Ertz is already used to watching his wife in the World Cup from 2015 but it's still tough for him.
“As an athlete, I feel like I have a little bit of control of the situation,” he said. “When you’re the in the stands, you have no control. You’re just praying she’s healthy and she’s having fun. ... It’s definitely more nerve-racking watching than playing.”
As for his summer break, it's not all about spectating and the Louvre. Ertz plans to take a week off as he usually does but then maintenance for the upcoming season picks up even getting some help from Anthony Mahoungou, the Paris native who tried out for the Eagles last year.
“This guy is a pro's pro the way he attacks just the offseason,” Pederson said of Ertz.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen