Eagles’ veteran tight end Zach Ertz spoke to the media on Friday afternoon and shared a personal reason for him supporting kids having access to fall sports, if it can be done safely, and also how training camp has been different this year.
Here’s what he had to say:
On training camp practices
Ertz noted that they haven’t gotten into how training camp practices are going to look just yet, because they’re just now getting into Phase 2 next week — on the field with the offense.
But, the tight end said that Doug Pederson runs a tough camp and they know that this offseason is unique and they’ll have to force a lot of situations that they typically have all offseason to practice — 3rd down and redzone situations. Ertz doesn’t think, however, that things will be more intense just because there isn’t a preseason, because they bring that energy anyway.
He talked about how he, and Carson Wentz, approach camp as though they are still competing for their roles — even with drafted rookies. With Dallas Goedert a couple years ago at tight end, and now Jalen Hurts at quarterback, nothing changes for Ertz or Wentz in terms of their preparation for the season.
Despite some players appreciating the extra classroom time during a virtual offseason, Ertz noted that the relationship aspect that they missed among the entire group and different positions is something he missed the most. He’s developed so many friendships with his teammates over the years, and that’s what he missed during the spring.
On new offense additions
Ertz is excited about the fast talent they added to the offense this offseason, and said that it should help avoid having 20-play drives down the field. The goal is to have explosive plays on first and second downs to limit third downs — even though they’re among the top in the league.
On HS football this fall
Ertz was asked whether he spoke to his wife, Julie, about opting out of this season, but he said that they don’t have a lot of pre-risk health factors, so their biggest concern is family members. They always wear their mask in public, but overall, he didn’t need feel the need to consider opting out.
He wanted to point out how the potential of not having high school football in Philadelphia this fall could affect the kids.
“I was 15 years old, my parents separated, I was the oldest of four boys, and the only thing I knew how to do, the only way I knew to express myself — I was so frustrated inside, the only thing I could do was play football. All I did was focus, lift weights, play football and play basketball, and that kind of allowed me to release my internal stress and pressure that I had built up.
And [Pennsylvania governor] Tom Wolf yesterday came out with a recommendation that there is no fall football or sports in general, and the adversity that I faced when I was 15 is about 1/1000th of what many kids in this state, in particular, are going to be facing if they don’t have an outlet, if there is no football in the fall for these kids.
And, I would just really challenge everyone, if the decision is no football, there’s gotta be an alternative. If we just let these kids go about their days with no guidance, with no further investment — obviously, football costs money, so if they were to disband football, where is that money going to go. I would love to see it invested in these kids, to make sure that they’re okay, and taken care of and not on the streets from 3-7 [pm].
That’s what I was fortunate enough to do, I was out of the community from 3-7 [pm], I had organization after school with football and basketball. I can’t imagine the path I would’ve gone down if I didn’t have football to express myself.
So, I want kids to be healthy, first and foremost, that is the primary goal and I would just really challenge, if that is the decision, to really think out of the box about how we can keep these kids safe.”