Philadelphia Eagles: Brent Celek Is a Top-Flight Tight End and a Philly Guy

Ron Pasceri@@RonPasceriCorrespondent IIJanuary 5, 2012

Not even a sports hernia can slow down Brent Celek.
Not even a sports hernia can slow down Brent Celek.Rob Carr/Getty Images

There have been many hot-button stories relating to the Eagles this season.

The Juan Castillo experiment, the post-lockout spending spree, the "Dream Team" comment, the Jeremy Maclin illness, the DeSean Jackson saga, the Casey Matthews project, the Michael Vick injuries, the turnovers, the blown fourth-quarter leads, the Jason Babin sack parade and some more of the Juan Castillo experiment. 

None of those stories involve Brent Celek's resurgence or the fact that maybe more than anyone since Brian Dawkins left, Brent Celek is an embodiment of everything Philadelphia loves.

Celek hasn't been anonymous, but he has definitely been overshadowed by the likes of Brian Westbrook, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin.  He has been more of a grunt on a team full of glamour players.

In late 2008, Celek scored his first touchdown of the season in the 44-6 trouncing of Dallas to clinch the final playoff spot.  He followed that up with an outstanding postseason.  He caught 19 passes in three games.  He scored a touchdown in the upset win over the Giants and added two more in the NFC Championship game in Arizona.

Celek was quietly outstanding in 2009, catching 76 passes for 971 yards and eight touchdowns.

2010 was a step back for Celek as he didn't seem to be a main cog in the Michael Vick light and laser show.  He only caught 42 passes for 511 yards and four touchdowns—a major step back.

Fast forward to this season. Through five games, Celek was targeted just 21 times.  He registered nine receptions for a paltry 73 yards.  Did Celek complain?  No, he didn't.  He put his head down and continued to play football.

Despite his lack of production in the passing game, he showed marked improvement as a blocker.  And he was always engaged on every play, whether he was getting the ball or not.

From that point on though, there was a distinct change in the way Celek was deployed.

Over the final 11 games, Celek caught 53-of-76 passes thrown his way, gaining 738 yards and scoring five touchdowns.  He even notched at least one catch of 20 yards or more in eight of the last 11 games.

The Eagles were 7-4 in that stretch.  Calculated over a full 16 games, Celek's production would have been 77 catches for 1,073 yards and seven touchdowns.  That would have placed him in the top six among tight ends in all three categories.

Putting numbers aside, there's also a passion and an edge and a toughness to Celek's game which truly represents the city of Philadelphia more than any other Eagles player.

He never gets tackled by one guy.  He never gets pushed backwards.  He always seems to gain at least three or four yards after contact and sometimes more while carrying multiple players on his back.

Celek goes all out on every play, and he gets the most out of his ability.  In 80 career games, he has never once fumbled.

What makes this even more incredible is the news that Celek underwent not one, but two surgeries on Wednesday.  One was to repair a sports hernia, and the other, a torn labrum in his left hip.

Imagine all the big hits and big plays and broken tackles.  Who knows how many of them happened while nursing some pretty serious injuries in his midsection.

If there was any reason to truly rally around this team, Brent Celek is it.  Despite any Andy Reid fatigue or ill feelings toward Michael Vick that fans may have, Brent Celek is an Eagle.

Brent Celek represents your team and your city more than any other figure right now.  The best part is he will be just 27 when next season starts. 

So everyone in Philadelphia that's mad or dejected or disgusted or just tired of the current regime, take a step back and appreciate what you have in Brent Celek. 

He's worth your appreciation, and maybe, he'll play a part in changing the culture of this team and help to deliver the season you have all been waiting for.