Haason Reddick becomes the latest in a long line of Philly products to return home

Haason Reddick
CHARLOTTE, NC – NOVEMBER 21: Haason Reddick (43) outside linebacker of Carolina during an NFL football game between the Washington Football Team and the Carolina Panthers on November 21, 2021, at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Eagles began their offseason with an aggressive splash by agreeing to terms on a three-year contract with free-agent edge rusher Haason Reddick.

Reddick will most likely play a hybrid role as a SAM linebacker and a defensive end. After an underwhelming first three NFL seasons from 2017-2019, he broke out for 12.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss in 2020 with the Arizona Cardinals. He continued his stellar play coming off the edge with the Carolina Panthers in 2021 with 11 sacks and 12 tackles for loss.

The 27-year-old brings a pedigree of success to an Eagles defense that was thin on impact playmakers in 2021, but his fit in Philadelphia goes beyond the football field. Reddick grew up in Camden, New Jersey, and attended Haddon Heights High School and Temple University.

The local success story invokes the territorial sense of pride that characterizes residents of the Philadelphia area and the most passionate fan base in the NFL. 

Reddick- Philly Proud, Temple Tuff

Reddick starred as a running back and safety at Haddon Heights. He suffered a fractured femur during his junior year that jeopardized his promising future. However, he recovered to play part of his senior season and later earned a spot as a walk-on at Temple.

After spending his first year as a redshirt, he played four seasons under head coach Matt Rhule from 2013-2016. He teamed up with Tyler Matekevich and Matt Ioannidis in 2015 as anchors of one of the meanest defensive fronts in the NCAA. They helped lead the Owls to a signature victory over Penn State and the best season in program history.

During his senior season in 2016, he partook in one of the most underrated NCAA traditions by wearing the #7 jersey. Single-digit numbers are assigned exclusively to Temple players who “represent the “T” with pride on the field, in the classroom, and in the community.”

Reddick’s shining moment unfolded at the NFL Draft in April 2017 on the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum in front of an estimated 250,000 screaming fans. The Cardinals selected him 13th overall in a storybook moment just a few miles away from the town he grew up in and the college he attended.

He immediately gave a shoutout to North Broad Street on ESPN just minutes after the pick was announced when he credited the importance of being “Temple TUFF” in his journey to the NFL. He explained the phrase as something that describes the “most elite, toughest, hard-working people on the planet.”

Rhule helped reunite his former game wrecker with some old friends in Carolina. The Panthers had seven former Owls on their roster in 2021, including Reddick’s prominent college teammates Robby Anderson and P.J. Walker.

Temple Owls in Eagles History

Temple has shared facilities with the Eagles at Veterans Stadium and Lincoln Financial Field for 45 years. The Owls have never entered contention for a National Championship during that span, but they’ve sent their fair share of alumni to play on Sundays.

The most successful Owl-turned-Eagle was Bucko Kilroy, a graduate of St. Anne’s in Port Richmond and Northeast Catholic. He played 134 games in 13 seasons from 1943-1955 and helped Philadelphia to NFL Championships in 1948 and 1949. Mike Jarmoluk also played in parts of seven seasons for the Eagles through 1955 and earned a Pro Bowl nod in 1951. 

The Eagles drafted four Owls — Joe Tyrrell, Jim Thompson, Gary Webb, and Mike Curcio — by 1980 but waited 22 years to draft another.

They selected Raheem Brock in the seventh round of the 2002 NFL Draft, but regrettably let the defensive lineman slip away to the Indianapolis Colts, where he became a contributor for their best era in franchise history and a Super Bowl champion after the 2006 season.   

In 2011, the Eagles selected safety Jaiquawn Jarrett with the 54th overall pick. The pick proved to be another botched attempt at acquiring a former Owl, and the team released him before he began his third NFL season.

Shaun Bradley is the most recent Temple player picked by the Eagles. He has played a special teams role the past two seasons since being selected in the sixth round in 2020. Reddick and Bradley were college teammates in 2016, and the two are excited to be back together at the Linc.

Dan Klecko, now a member of the Temple University Athletics Hall of Fame, signed with the Eagles as a free agent in 2008. He played defensive tackle for his first five NFL seasons before coming back to Philadelphia, where he completed the rare transition from defensive line to fullback for one season in midnight green.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles played defensive back for the Owls from 1982-1985 and worked on Andy Reid’s staff during the 2012 season in Philadelphia.

Local Players in Eagles History

According to Reuben Frank of NBC Sports Philadelphia, 15 players from the city of Philadelphia have played for the Eagles since 1940. The most recent was Will Parks, whose short-lived tenure in 2020 will be most remembered for his complaints about playing time on social media.

The Eagles selected Shareef Miller with the final pick of the fourth round in 2019, but the former Penn State lineman and George Washington High School graduate only ever appeared in one game in a special teams role. Bruce Perry and Uhuru Hamiter are the only others since the AFL-NFL merger in 1966.

The most famous narrative surrounding a local connection is the story of Vince Papale, a Delaware County (NOT South Philly) native who surprisingly made the team after an open tryout held by legendary head coach Dick Vermeil.

The most significant contributions of any Eagle with roots in the area came from Corey Clement. The native of Glassboro, New Jersey had the best game of his four-year tenure in Philadelphia when he caught four passes for 100 yards and a touchdown in Super Bowl LII.

His former teammate Josh Adams grew up in Bucks County before playing college football at the University of Notre Dame. He led the Eagles in rushing yards in his only season in Philadelphia in 2018.

Matt Bahr, a graduate of Neshaminy High School, played 17 NFL seasons as a kicker, including time with the Eagles in 1993. Kyle Eckel from Episcopal Academy also played eight total games for the 2008 team who advanced to NFC Championship Game.

The Eagles have a substantial history of bringing in players from South Jersey. Notably, Irving Fryar spent three of his 17 NFL seasons with the Eagles. The Mount Holly native finished with 222 receptions for 3067 yards and 19 touchdowns during a short stint from 1996-1998 late in his prolific career.  

The Eagles attempted to stir up the hometown narrative when they signed Joe Flacco, a native of Audobon, in 2021. The acquisition failed, and they dealt him to the New York Jets before he ever took a regular-season snap. 

Bradley and Curcio also grew up in South Jersey before attending Temple.

All Eyes on Hasson Reddick

The heightened scrutiny of professional athletes wearing the hometown colors sometimes discourages players like Reddick from a homecoming. Many athletes in similar situations return towards the end of their careers when their professional legacies are already determined.

Reddick travels back to Philadelphia with perhaps the highest expectations of any player with a connection to the area. A $45 million contract comes with intense pressure from Eagles fans attached to it, regardless of where a player spent his childhood or played college ball. 

Philadelphia has one of its own in Reddick, and his performance will dictate whether the homecoming narrative stays endearing to Eagles fans.

Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire