Jason Peters is a hero. Cary Williams is an enigma. Nick Foles blends in.
These are the way some fans and media depict Eagles players for the way they display their emotions, at least to the public. Peters rushed in to protect Foles when Foles was knocked to the ground in Sunday's game against Washington, and for that Peters is cheered. Williams allowed his frustration to surface in front of cameras and microphones after the win over Washington, and for that he is the subject of much conversation, and not all of it pleasant. Foles is even handed in every situation, and for that fans and media sometimes wonder if he has a fire that they don't see.
Football is an emotional game played on the edge by players who are at their energetic peak. It is a frenetic, physical and incredibly intense exercise. Emotion is a huge part of the game. And sometimes it is the edge that players use to make it, to succeed, in the NFL.
Consider Cary Williams. He was a seventh-round draft pick by Carolina, was cut as a rookie, earned a spot on the practice squad and then saw some time on the active roster before the Panthers cut him. Williams was picked up by Baltimore and earned a starting job and then a Super Bowl ring. The Eagles signed him as an unrestricted free agent prior to the 2013 season.
He's a fiery guy and he hasn't exactly said all the right things in his time as an Eagle. He battles his emotions. He works at it. He tries to control the rage that consumes him on game days, the rage that helped him go from a player-on-the-streets to a Super Bowl champion to a coveted unrestricted free agent.
Sometimes he harnesses that emotion. And sometimes, like on Sunday after the Eagles beat Washington, he lets it take control of him. When Williams complained about the way the Eagles practiced, it was wrong. It was a mistake, and a couple of days later Williams apologized to the team and everyone accepted his words and his actions and moved on.
Peters has always been the strong, silent type, yet when Washington's Chris Baker leveled Foles after an apparent interception as Foles was well away from the action, Peters rushed in to defend his quarterback. It was a startling move, and very much welcomed. Peters did what the entire team wanted to do in that instant as a brawl broke out on the sidelines at Lincoln Financial Field. Nobody is condoning the brawl, and Peters cost his team as he was ejected. But he acted in defense of his quarterback, his teammate, and everyone respects Peters for rushing in.
Foles, for his part, said it was a "dirty play" after the game and then backed away from talking about it in the days after. He isn't much of an outward-facing emotional guy, preferring instead to play the game with an level head and a calm exterior. The fire burns inside, for sure, as Foles continues his daily quest to be the best he can be in this game.
How do you, as a fan, react to the varying emotions of these three players? Is Williams to be criticized for his post-game comments? Absolutely. There was no need for him to say what he said. Have you forgiven him after he issued his apology and admitted his mistake? I hope so. I hope there is room in this game and in this world for making a mistake and then owning up to it and accepting forgiveness.
Peters? He did what every player who puts his team first does when he sees his quarterback take a shot and go down. Peters deserves the accolades not only as the best left tackle in the game today and maybe the best in the history of this franchise, but as a leader for a team even when his actions speak much louder than his words.
Foles? He shouldn't change who he is. The kid is "nails," as backup quarterback Mark Sanchez says, and is as tough as they come and is a leader with total respect in the locker room and in the organization.
All three are incredibly competitive and emotional players. All three showed their emotions on Sunday in different ways and to judge any of them negatively in the aftermath of an NFC East melee is just not something that sits well from this perspective.