Turns out the Kansas City Chiefs weren’t the only focus of attention for the Philadelphia Eagles on opening night of Super Bowl Week.
So was the San Francisco 49ers, courtesy of wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk. The third-year wideout created quite the stir during his appearance on The SFNiners podcast — calling out the NFC champs by describing how he believed the 49ers were the best team in the league and how the Eagles pass defense will get exposed on Sunday, February 12 facing Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and company.
The Eagles, though, had players who clapped back at Aiyuk when his comments were brought up by the media down in the Phoenix region beginning with one of their Pro Bowl representatives.
Pro Bowler Among Those Who Sounded Off
One Eagle who gave the most verbose response was Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay, who was on the field helping cover Aiyuk and the 49er receivers at Lincoln Financial Field during the NFC title game. Slay called it how he saw it.
“I just think that’s bad sportsmanship,” Slay responded to Aiyuk’s comments via Henry McKenna of Fox Sports. “They did a lot of talking, about physicality and all this kind of stuff. Now they want to blame something. They weren’t complaining when they were 8-0 (with Brock Purdy), so I don’t know what they’re complaining about now.”
The five-time Pro Bowler added “What kind of chance are they going to get? The first time they dropped back, we’re going to break their quarterback — both of them. I don’t know what chance they would’ve got. But shout out to him.”
Slay finished as one of six Eagle defenders with three tackles. Slay also never drew a single matchup facing Aiyuk. His lone wide receiver he ended up covering? Deebo Samuel, who caught one pass for 11 yards on one target according to Pro Football Focus.
Slay wasn’t the lone member of the Eagles who sounded off on Aiyuk’s comments.
Elite Rusher Reacts, Plus Member of Last Eagles’ Super Bowl Team
Haason Reddick, the defender most credited for wrecking the 49ers’ offensive plans who delivered two sacks in the game, chose to deflect from responding to Aiyuk directly via Jarrett Bell of the USA Today.
“Everybody’s entitled to their opinion,” said Reddick, who also delivered 16 sacks to a unit that produced a league-high 70 sacks. “We’re not worried about how anybody feels.”
Meanwhile defensive end Brandon Graham, who had one solo tackle in the romp of the 49ers plus was on the Eagles’ Super Bowl 52 winner, was another who reacted to Aiyuk’s statement — and zeroed in on how the 49ers weren’t at full health which led to the Eagles rout.
“That’s the game,” Graham said via CBS Sports HQ NFL insider Josina Anderson. “We know how this game goes. You’ve got to stay healthy.”
Graham did, however, caught wind of Aiyuk saying how if “he were a betting man” he’d pick the Chiefs over the Eagles. Graham encouraged Aiyuk to leave that thought for the Super Bowl while at his home.
“You know what? Everybody’s going to be at their Super Bowl party, and they can judge off of that,” Graham said of Aiyuk’s assessment. “We have to go out there and prove it one more week.”
Trash Talk Was Captured in Traffic Before NFC Title Game
Turns out there was some talking from the Eagles before the NFC title game…while in traffic.
And it came from the mouth of Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon.
Captured by one fan and later reposted by Barstool Philly on February 2, Gannon is seen rolling down his window making this statement: “We’re going to f****** gut these guys.”
Gannon, however, claimed on Opening Media night that he had no idea he was being videotaped, but added how it was “all in good fun.”