Former Falcons LB Named Newest Eagles Team Captain

Duke Riley

Getty Eagles LB Duke Riley has turned into a key special-teams player and now a team captain for Philadelphia.

He already had a regal name. Now he has the title to match it.

The Eagles have named Duke Riley as a permanent team captain, the team’s fifth captain as he joins fellow leaders Jason Kelce, Malcolm Jenkins, Fletcher Cox and Carson Wentz. Riley, who was acquired on Sept. 30 in a trade with Atlanta, has carved out a name for himself on special teams where he ranks second on the Eagles in special-teams tackles with 10.

The former Falcons linebacker participated on 74-percent of the special teams snaps last week against the Giants and has been in on 56-percent of the special-teams snaps for the year. He’s also made some nice tackles in run support for the league’s third-stingiest rush defense.

According to The Athletic’s Bo Wulf, Riley was recently awarded the title of team captain and takes over the role vacated by Kamu Grugier-Hill who was placed on IR on Dec. 18. While Riley doesn’t yet have the official “C” stitched into his jersey, he’s earned the right to demand more from his teammates.

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson made it known in a very public manner during a recent meeting. It was a memorable moment for the 25-year-old.

“Doug Pederson said it front of the whole team, and everybody was just clapping and applauding me,” Riley told Wulf. “I’m more honored than anything that they would even do that for a guy like me. I’ve always worked and tried to lead by example, so it’s good that they see that, that I’m doing that and trying to lead.”

Riley, a third-round pick in the 2017 NFL draft (75th overall), had been starting to get the dreaded “bust” label in Atlanta. It seems the change of scenery has helped revive his career. He has 89 total tackles in three seasons while providing a burst of emotion in the special-teams huddle.

Duke Riley’s Longtime Friendship with Rapper Lil’ Wayne

Lil’ Wayne started his Young Money Sports agency in 2016 and signed three young football players. One of the first athletes to sign on was Duke Riley.

The former four-year starter at LSU struck up an early friendship with the Louisiana-based rapper after Wayne and his business partner Face-Timed Riley about potentially signing on as a client. It didn’t take too long for the two to realize they had a lot in common.

“They were the first agency that did their homework,” Riley told Eagles Insider Molly Sullivan. “They brought up my son’s name, knew his whole name, and they were planning stuff for him. That was it for me.”

Of course, Riley’s ability to have Wayne on speed dial was certainly another selling point.

“I get to hang out with Lil’ Wayne whenever I want,” Riley said. “He does what he does and doesn’t care what anyone thinks.”

In November 2017, Riley took their friendship to another level when he got a tattoo of Wayne on his leg. It’s an ornate close-up of the rapper’s face with a crown on his head.

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