By Connor Barwin, for Eagles.com
Being asked by the Eagles to be the Honorary Captain presented by Santander for Sunday’s game against Chicago means a lot. I had four great years in Philly – tons of great teammates, tons of good moments on that field. I’ll be excited.
It’s going to bring back all kinds of great memories – the battles we had on that field, the wins, some of the losses. The amazing times we had on the sidelines, whether I was talking to Trent Cole or Brent Celek or Jason Kelce. The times in the locker room before and after the games celebrating or mourning a loss. It will be great to step on that field one more time and, in a small way, be involved in one more game here.
I recently made the decision to retire from the game because I just knew it was time. I played 10 years and I knew it was time to move on to the next chapter of my life. I had a great career, tons of memorable moments, and I knew it was a good time to step away. And physically, it was the right time, as well. I wanted to leave in good health.
I think one of the fondest moments of my four seasons as an Eagle was that first year, 2013, playing against the Cowboys in Dallas. Kyle Orton ran a bootleg on fourth down and I jumped up and batted the pass down. We took the lead on the ensuing drive and won the game. That got us into the playoffs.
I’m proud to say I never missed a start as an Eagle. When I look back at my time in Philly, I think, again, of so many great teammates, good relationships, and good people.
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.
My wife, Laura, and our 1-year-old son, West, have chosen to become a part of that family and make Philadelphia our home. I think it’s the greatest sports town in the country. I’ve got tons of friends who I played with that live here, and people outside of the football world that live here. When I played, we laid down roots here. And after I left, I made a couple stops, but we always knew this would be home.
During my first year here, I started my Make The World Better Foundation in 2013. When I moved to Philly, I was 26 years old, and I wanted to take a leadership role and do something positive for the community. I grew up in playgrounds and I wanted to start in kind of a public space/playground world.
I rode my bike to practice almost every day in the offseason by the first project, which was Ralph Brooks Park. It was very organic how it all came together and everything’s kind of snowballed since then. We’re now working on our fourth project, the Vare Recreation Center on Morris Street.
The foundation’s mission statement, as it reads, is, “We work to connect people and inspire stewardship through public space revitalization projects.” But really, what that means is we work with neighborhoods, we work with people and help them reimagine what they want the space to look like. And then we partner with them to actually make it a reality.
We’re trying to do it the right way. We are thoughtful in our approach. We’re taking our time and we’re constantly trying to prove in our process that we’re putting the people first in every project.
The physical manifestation of it is amazing and it gives kids a safe place to play, which all kids should have access to. I’m very proud of that. I think our process and the way we do it is more thorough and challenging, but I think it makes it more worthwhile and it’s what I’m most proud of.