Darren Sproles may not be able to physically play on Sunday, but he’ll be on the field. In a very special role.
The future Hall-of-Fame utility back announced his retirement on Saturday after 15 exciting seasons in the NFL. Sproles, who will turn 37 in June, spent the last six years endearing himself to the city of Philadelphia while accumulating 4,194 of his 19,696 career all-purpose yards in midnight green. He ranks fifth in that department on the league’s all-time list.
The Eagles have long valued Sproles’ contributions despite injuries slowing him down in recent years. He has missed time in each of the last three seasons with a variety of ailments and was placed on injured reserve on Nov. 15.
No matter. According to the team’s official website, Sproles will lead the Eagles out of the tunnel for one last time on Sunday in the biggest game of the year. It’s Eagles versus Cowboys, with the NFC East on the line. Sproles wouldn’t have it any other way.
It’s hard to put in words the emotion I will feel when I walk out of the tunnel one last time for a regular-season game at Lincoln Financial Field. One last time with my teammates and coaches, and one last time in front of the fans. Trust me, I believe in this group and I know that we still have a nice run left in us this year. We’ve done it before and we can do it again. But as I stand down there on Sunday, I will definitely be thinking about all of the special memories I have made over the last 15 years, and especially the last six here in Philadelphia.
Sproles thanked everyone in the organization, plus his many teammates and Eagles fans, in a long, heartfelt letter posted on the Eagles’ official team website. In it, the diminutive running back heaped a ton of praise on head coach Doug Pederson for “changing the culture.”
Connor Barwin to Serve as Honorary Alumni Captain
There will be another familiar face on the field on Sunday. Connor Barwin will serve as an honorary alumni captain for the Eagles.
The former linebacker-defensive end hybrid announced his retirement back on Oct. 17 after flirting with the team on a potential return. The Eagles ultimately chose to go with the defensive ends they had over bringing in a situational pass-rusher like Barwin.
Nevertheless, the 33-year-old always enjoyed a special bond with the city and it’s something he explained in an open letter to Eagles fans.
During my career, I also played for the Texans, Rams, and Giants, but what sets Eagles fans apart is I think they care the most. It’s known how passionate they are, but I think the big difference is when you play in Philly and you play hard and leave it all on the line, you become part of the family. And the family is the city and the fans who are rooting for the Eagles. They care when things are going well and they’re there for you when things aren’t going well.
Barwin finished with 56.5 career sacks, including 31.5 in midnight green. He ranks 15th on the franchise’s all-time sack list. He and his wife, Laura, will continue to reside in the Philadelphia area and raise their 1-year-old son, West.
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