‘Cool’ memories highlight Eagles military appreciation day

Note: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links, Schneps Media may earn a commission.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) and teammates warm up during practice at the NFL football teams training facility in Philadelphia, Thursday, June 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Jason Kelce was going down the line after Sunday’s practice, posing for selfies with Eagles fans and signing any kind of memorabilia tossed at him. The All-Pro center has made a conscientious habit of interacting with the diehards over the years. Only this opportunity had extra meaning.

Kelce was showing his appreciation for active and retired service members as part of Military Appreciation Day at Philadelphia Eagles’ training camp. He thanked each and every person waiting to meet him, including John Coulbourn (Army — Staff Sergeant) who pointed to his son, John, who proudly held up a Kelce autograph. Both men were laughing as they relayed a funny conversation about cows. Wait, what? Yes. You see, Kelce owns 11 cows and went to visit them this summer at a cattle farm in Missouri.

Donna Kelce
PHILADELPHIA, PA – NOVEMBER 07: Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce (62) looks on during the game between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Philadelphia Eagles on November 7, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

“Today has been pretty cool,” said Coulbourn, who has 22 years of military service. “First time I have been to the Eagles training camp. I brought my son so he had a really good time, got to meet Kelce, that was pretty cool.”

Kelce wasn’t the only one shaking hands and making memories. Jalen Hurts got serenaded on his way to the locker room which forced him to double back and greet all the heroes standing outside the NovaCare Complex. The quarterback was gracious and enthusiastic.

Meanwhile, left tackle Jordan Mailata had an entire contingent calling his name long after the rest of the team had cleared out. He trotted over to the eager group to drop some singing tips before inking an outstretched football from a woman in a camouflaged shirt. It was a gift for her son who is stationed in Iraq.

All the service members took part in a jersey swap with players as they walked off the field. The Eagles were wearing white threads with their names and numbers accented in camouflage. Coulbourn got the dirt-stained jersey off Dallas Goedert’s back.

“It’s awesome for them to show their support back to us for the times we’re not able to even come home and see our families and things,” Coulbourn said. “So, it’s pretty cool to be able to bring your family and a couple of guests down here for the experience.”

Eagles Flag Football Game: Team Hugh vs. Team Barrett

The Eagles practiced for 90 minutes on July 30th as personnel from all five branches of the military watched from the sideline. Jalen Hurts lit it up, with Quez Watkins, DeVonta Smith, and D’Andre Swift standing out as top targets. Afterward, a select group of active service members from the Tri-State area (Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey) were invited to participate in a flag football game.

Eagles greats Hugh Douglas and Barrett Brooks coached the two squads, yelling encouragement (and trash talk) throughout the friendly scrimmage. Douglas took the verbal side of things to extremes and put an opposing player on blast after he dropped a pass: “You blew it. That was your shot. Your coach don’t trust you no more.”

It was all in good fun. Team Green, helmed by Douglas, won the game 38-15. Each participant received a customized jersey with the number 23 (for 2023) on the back along with a military-themed word. For example: pride, fearless, dedication, among others. Tyler Dewey was playing quarterback for Team Green and ate up every word that came out of Douglas’ mouth.

“Hopefully we score more touchdowns,” Dewey said at halftime. “He’s riding the other team. It’s great. It’s fun to hear. He’s part of the Eagles alumni and he’s hyping us up. It’s just like backyard football.”

Dewey has been stationed at Biddle Air National Guard Base in Horsham, Pennsylvania, as part of the 201st Red Horse Squadron since 2010. He had previously been invited to a Philadelphia Union game, but this was his first time attending Eagles camp. Dewey, who played soccer and rugby in high school but not football, was touched and honored by the gesture.

“It’s awesome,” Dewey said. “It’s great that the Eagles do this for us. It’s a great opportunity to just go out and play for fun and I love football. I love the Eagles. And it’s a great time.”

The Eagles had tents emblazoned with Military Appreciation Day, along with complimentary kelly green rally towels for the service members and their families. The flag football game was part of the NFL’s larger “Back Together Weekend” festivities which included 12 hours of live coverage on NFL Network.

AP Photo/Matt Rourke