The Eagles did what was rumored for almost a year, and traded away veteran and legendary tight end Zach Ertz to the Arizona Cardinals. Ever the professional, Ertz took some time after the news was released to speak to the media, to reflect on his time with the organization, and talk about his love for the city he calls home and the fans he loves so much.
Here’s what the future Eagles’ Hall of Famer had to say:
“What a journey it’s been. What an amazing journey. What an amazing 8-plus years, 9 years here. Obviously, I’m extremely excited to be going to the Arizona Cardinals, play with a team that is rolling right now, and just be able to add my skillset to that team.”
He went on to say that he’s “ecstatic” for his new opportunity and to be able to show his new teammates what kind of person and player he can be, but that he’s taking a moment to reflect on his time with the Eagles. Ertz said that he was irked the past couple days when people would say that he’s getting to go home, back to the West Coast, but Philly is “home” and it was hard to articulate that to people.
“I love this place. I’ve said it all along. [as tears welled up in his eyes] It was a great opportunity to be here, and I loved it here. I did the best I could, every day, and I can leave knowing that. And, this isn’t going to be the last you’ll see of me here in the city, our foundation is still going to roll here. This is where we want to make an impact.”
Ertz went on to explain their most recent project in Hunting Park, call the House of Hope, where they are renovating a church to be a Wi-Fi cafe during the week for kids to be able to go after school.
He went on to talk about how he spent 30 minutes after the game on Thursday night crying in his locker, and he felt bad because the guys didn’t really know what was going on. Ertz admitted it was special being able to play one last game in front of fans at The Linc — last January, when he thought he had played his last game as an Eagle, there were no fans, so it would have been a weird way to end things.
On when Philly felt like home to him
“Coming from California, that first year was tough — we played against Detroit in the snow storm, and I was like, ‘Man, I don’t know if I can do this.’ [He said with a big smile.] California you don’t even see snow where I lived, and you had to seek out the snow if you wanted to see it, and I come out after pregame warmups and there’s a foot of snow on the ground — I can’t even run because I’m slipping all over the place, LeSean [McCoy] has amazing grip, he can do whatever he wants on the field that day, and I’m freaking, just by the heater. So, that year was rough, I don’t think I called it home just yet.”
Ertz went on to say that it felt like home probably after his third year, when he knew he was going to be in Philly for awhile and it was going to be the place they really poured themselves into. He said he felt the love every Sunday, winning a Super Bowl, and everything they did off the field in Philly.
“It’s just the people. That’s the toughest part, is leaving the people. Leaving the fans. You know, I played with Jason Kelce for nine years. So, that’s the toughest part.”
On why he loved playing in Philly and the fans
The tight end said that how his legacy has changed or evolved since he last talked about it in January has changed is up for “you to decide,” but he doesn’t regret coming back and playing these last six weeks as an Eagle. Ertz said that he had a blast in training camp, he had a blast coming to work everyday, and obviously they didn’t win enough, and he wishes he had gotten more snaps and more targets at times, but he doesn’t regret it.
“But to me, all I care about is winning football games, we just didn’t do it enough in the first six weeks. I think that’s all that matters in this city is winning football games. The standards are so high for a reason, fans care so much, and it’s tough for some people, but I loved it. And that was the bottom line, I loved playing here. I didn’t care if I got booed, I didn’t care if I got bad things said on a Monday after a terrible game on Sunday, because I knew I was going to be in here on Monday early catching Jugs machines if I had a couple drops, or working on blocking if I missed a block. And that’s all I cared about, was trying to get better, and be the best player I could.”
He said that he isn’t focused on the legacy stuff, but he knows that he tried his best and worked hard, and he can walk out of the building on Friday emotional, but content.
Ertz was later asked how he was able to embrace the boos and not let them negatively affect him. He talked about how younger players often struggle with that because for so long they are talked up and told how good they are, but that’s not reality, and it takes time to learn that it’s okay to be told you’re not playing great, it’s okay to be told you need to be better — but, in reality no one should have to tell players that, they should know the things they are and aren’t doing well.
“These people loves their team, the love the Eagles, they love their players. This city loves their players and they want to see us succeed as much, if not more, than we want to succeed. And, so, for me, that’s what I loved about this place. People were honest, people we’re blunt, they don’t about you apologizing after a game on social media if you played poorly, they want to see you put in the work Monday through Saturday to get better for Sunday. And for me that’s what I loved, and that’s why I think I resonated in this city, is because all I knew was how to work hard, and that’s why I love this place.”
On his place in the record books
He emphasized again that he didn’t regret coming back and playing these six weeks because Thursday night’s game was a much better way to go out, having played in front of the fans. Ertz said he wasn’t upset about being just 11 catches shy of the all-time TE record for the organization, and joked that maybe he’ll end up coming back, getting 12 catches and taking over the top spot — but, he noted that if you were to have told him nine years ago he’d end up the No. 2 all-time tight end leader for the Eagles, that would have been pretty incredible.
Ertz also talked about Howie Roseman calling him an Eagles Hall of Famer and what that will (eventually) mean to the tight end. He said it’s an honor, and he believes that while his records and stats will be noteworthy, it’s the work he put in to get those results that will have earned him that place.
“I think that’s what a Philadelphia Eagle is all about, showing up all the time. Doing your best, living with the results, and improving from there.”