Eagles’ Hurts blissful and humbled in run-up to historic SB matchup

Jalen Hurts stared up at an elevated stage crowded with Philadelphia Eagles teammates, on the area scoreboard projecting their photos, after which into the group of followers who descended on the Footprint Center on Monday night time for the so-called opening night time of Super Bowl week.

“These are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities,” Hurts, the Eagles’ third-year quarterback, mentioned as he answered questions from reporters on a podium flanking the stage. “So I appreciate everything.”

On Sunday, Hurts will play within the NFL’s championship recreation for the primary time when he faces the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is taking part in in his third Super Bowl. But Hurts seemed and sounded each bit the veteran as he calmly dealt with an hour-long, rapid-fire onslaught of questions.

Hurts, 24, mentioned he acquired recommendation from former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb and two-time Super Bowl champion Peyton Manning.

“Donovan, he’s telling me to treat it all the same,” Hurts mentioned. “[Manning] gave me some encouragement to tell me how he handled the week, how he handled his preparation and how you want to go about it.

“So, definitely had some great influence and input from good people.”

This would be the first time that two Black quarterbacks will begin within the Super Bowl. Hurts was requested quite a few instances concerning the significance.

“Historic,” he mentioned. “I think the game’s evolved and it’s continuing to evolve before our eyes. That’s the beautiful thing to see, and to be a part of this history is a blessing.

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“To be able to give the next generation of quarterbacks something to believe in, something to look forward to.”

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, proper, and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts converse to the media throughout the Super Bowl LVII opening night time, on Monday in Phoenix.

(Matt York / Associated Press)

Hurts pointed to the Eagles’ line of quarterbacks who helped pave the way in which for him, together with Randall Cunningham, Rodney Peete, McNabb and Michael Vick.

“I told those guys … I just want to carry the torch for them,” Hurts mentioned.

Hurts’ street to the Super Bowl was something however a straight line.

As an Alabama freshman in 2016, he led the Crimson Tide to the nationwide championship recreation. He did it once more the subsequent season, however he was changed by Tua Tagovailoa within the second half of the title recreation in opposition to Clemson. Hurts was a backup as a junior after which transferred to Oklahoma for his last season, ending because the runner-up to Joe Burrow in Heisman Trophy balloting.

The Eagles chosen Hurts within the second spherical of the 2020 NFL draft, and he ultimately supplanted Carson Wentz because the starter. Last season, he led the Eagles to the playoffs.

This season, Hurts handed for 22 touchdowns and rushed for 13 because the Eagles completed 14-3 and earned the No. 1 seed for the NFC playoffs. After main the Eagles to playoff victories over the New York Giants and the San Francisco 49ers, Hurts is within the Super Bowl.

Asked if he may envision sitting at a Super Bowl podium when he was going by way of struggles in faculty, Hurts mentioned he by no means knew how it could find yourself.

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“One thing that I’ve always been adamant on,” he mentioned, “is not putting a limit on myself.”

Hurts’ expertise at Alabama prepped him for dealing with the distractions that come together with making ready for a championship recreation.

But the Super Bowl is completely different.

“There’s a lot of different things that come with this game,” he mentioned. “This is the mecca of football and our game.

“So regardless of everything that’s going on externally, you want to stay in your normal routine, your normal process.”

View from Down Under

The Eagles have one of the best offensive line in soccer, and their left deal with, Jordan Mailata, had an extremely circuitous and unlikely path to soccer.

The son of Samoan immigrants to Australia, Mailata grew up in Sydney as a rugby participant. He was a phenom for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs under-18s workforce and the South Sydney Rabbitohs under-20s workforce. He rose by way of the soccer ranks as a part of the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program and was chosen by the Eagles within the seventh spherical of the 2018 draft.

In brief, attending to the Super Bowl wasn’t even on his radar as a child. The first recreation he remembers watching was Denver-Carolina, Manning’s last recreation, on the finish of the 2015 season.

“I’ve only been dreaming about this for five years,” Mailata mentioned. “So for me, it’s not like as pent-up as it is with my teammates. They’ve been dreaming about this since they were kids. So, I’m living through them and with them. It’s great to see everybody’s faces light up. Obviously, it’s an amazing achievement, but I can only imagine what’s going through their heads, man.

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“These guys were probably watching [the Super Bowl] in the womb. It’s just amazing.”

Gordon dwelling the dream … type of

Kansas City has 4 operating backs on its energetic roster. Not certainly one of them is Melvin Gordon III.

Instead, the previous Chargers star finds himself at Super Bowl LVII within the oddest of positions: a Chiefs apply squad participant.

“I’m in La-La Land,” Gordon mentioned. “I’m ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ Never-never land, whatever you want to call it. I’m in a dream. I didn’t get here the way I wanted to, but I’m here. Right or wrong, I’m here.”

A primary-round choose of the Chargers in 2015, Gordon is fourth on the franchise’s all-time dashing record. He left the workforce for Denver as a free agent in April 2020.

Gordon appeared in 41 video games for the Broncos till he was launched in November. Every week later, he signed with Kansas City and has been on the apply squad ever since.

“To be honest, I don’t even know how I’m supposed to take this right now,” Gordon mentioned. “It’s something I dreamed about as a kid, but not exactly like this. Let’s just say I haven’t contributed a whole lot to getting here.”

Gordon mentioned he was indignant after being let go by Denver following the workforce’s Week 11 loss to Las Vegas. He fumbled for the fifth time this season in that recreation.

“I just need something to smile about,” Gordon mentioned. “I’m laughing about it now, but I was mad as hell. And I’ve been mad as hell. But this is something to smile about.”