Eagles quick hits: Jordan Mailata on growing up with Tony Romo, Zach Cunningham’s anime fandom and more

Ahead of the Eagles’ season opener against the Patriots on Sunday in Foxboro, here are some select clips from the Birds’ practice this week.

Australia’s team? 🇦🇺

Tom Brady is perhaps the most famous NFL player of all time. New England will honor Brady, now (finally?) retired, at halftime of Week 1 after the quarterback won six Super Bowls with the franchise.

How well known is Brady?

Jordan Mailata, whose journey from football rookie in Australia to NFL left tackle is well-known, was asked who was the first American football player he ever saw.

“It would probably be Tom Brady. If not Tom Brady, then Tony Romo,” Mailata told PhillyVoice on Wednesday.

Peyton Manning? No. Randy Moss? No. It’s Romo who ended up being more famous for his playoff deficiencies and romantic escapades than his football exploits.

“They were promoted as America’s team. I was going to say Tony Romo at first, but probably Tom Brady. I’m just being honest. I didn’t know what the hell I was looking at. I had no idea who the hell “It was the Cowboys. I didn’t know I was supposed to hate her,” Mailata said.

After the Eagles drafted Mailata five years ago, his transformation into a Philadelphian is finally complete. He knows he’s supposed to hate the Cowboys.

Romo will of course be the TV analyst for CBS during the Eagles-Patriots game.

Straw Hat Pirates 🏴‍☠️

It’s been a turbulent few weeks for Zach Cunningham. The Eagles signed him off the road in early August, he’s now in position to serve as the starting linebacker on Sundays, and the live-action adaptation of the “One Piece” series debuted on Netflix.

Cunningham is the Eagles’ resident anime fan. During some training sessions, Cunningham, as is the case with many players, tucks his jersey under his shoulder pads. This leaves Cunningham’s T-shirt with anime and manga motifs hanging. There’s a tie-dye anime t-shirt hanging between his clothes in his locker.

What would Cunningham suggest to an anime newbie who wants to check out some of these Japanese animated series?

“I wouldn’t recommend the longer animes [the original animated] ‘One Piece’ or ‘Naruto,'” Cunningham told PhillyVoice on Thursday. There were several Naruto series that ran from 2002 to 2017. This is a huge undertaking.

Cunningham recommends the new pirate-themed Netflix show “One Piece,” which just dropped on the streaming service and only has eight episodes.

“This could be a way to get exposure.”

As for others?

“Something like ‘Demon Slayer,'” Cunningham continued. “I think that would be good. Maybe ‘Attack on Titan.'” Something like that. Something a little shorter so you don’t get overwhelmed.”

Tips for Fall Leisure: Watch a lot of football and enjoy Attack on Titan.

Specialists unite 🤝

An old Bill Belichick press conference clip resurfaced this week and went viral. The Patriots coach was asked whether having a player who focuses solely on long snaps would be a waste of a roster spot and whether it would be easy to simply coach a regular position player.

Well, Belichick certainly didn’t think so and provided a 10-minute history of the long snapper position and its importance:

Does Eagles special teams captain Jake Elliott agree with the need for a player whose only commitment is to snap long?

Elliott laughs when asked. “Yes,” he said clearly.

“I know it’s a special position, but it’s the same as every other position out here,” Elliott told PhillyVoice on Thursday. “If you move a guy from left tackle to right tackle and put a wide receiver at quarterback, it’s going to be the same thing. These are the things you specialize in your whole life.”

“If you throw someone else out, you risk a huge change in dynamic, a huge change in the game. Punts are constantly being blocked. When that happens, sometimes that team wins the game.” When you don’t have someone you can rely on to rebound and block, your skill set is completely different than anyone else’s. Critically important.”

Eagles long snapper Rick Lovato has been here almost as long as Elliott. Lovato has been the Eagles’ full-time long snapper since 2017 and Elliott joined the Birds during that Super Bowl season. Lovato was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2019 and Elliott also made the team in 2021.

“We’ve worked together for a long time, so I’m comfortable with him,” Elliott said of his connection with Lovato on the court. “I understand his rhythm. I trust him. That’s a big part of it.”

If you didn’t know the name of the Eagles’ long snapper off hand, hey, that means Lovato has done a great job over the years. The more anonymous a long snapper is, the more consistent his performance is.

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