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Wednesday, December 22, 2004

We Like Ike

He's basically a journeyman, except his journey in the National Football League has been with only one team -- the Philadelphia Eagles. He's a special teamer, basically, although he does get into the game on defense to give a starter a blow or in some oddly configured defense that Merlin the Defense Coordinator Jim Johnson sets up from time to time. His name: Ike Reese.

The Ike Reeses of the world don't get blogged about. They can't throw laser-inspired passes to well-covered wideouts to win games, nor do they lead their team to defensive conquests the way a Ray Lewis does. They don't flirt with the bad girl of the hot TV show on Monday Night Football during the pre-game, and they don't have their jerseys sold in the local sporting goods stores. As for the latter point, if you look in the Philadelphia area for a McNabb jersey, or a Westbrook, a Kearse, an Owens or a Dawkins, you can find one. But a Reese? Not a chance.

So who cares, right? Well, for starters, his peers in the NFL do, because in his 7th season, Ike Reese has been elected to his first Pro Bowl as the special teams player for the NFC. For seconds, all NFL personnel directors love the Ike Reeses of the world. They play key roles on their rosters, they do a great job at what they do, and they are happy to be where they are. In essence, the Ike Reeses of the world form the foundations of successful football teams.

Ike appears on WIP in Philadelphia once a week, and from the sound of it he'll have a future in broadcasting when his career is done. But right now, all Philadelphia fans salute the 7th year back-up linebacker from Michigan State. The Eagles fans are happy that T.O., Tra Thomas, Donovan McNabb, Michael Lewis, Lito Sheppard, Brian Dawkins and David Akers got named to the Pro Bowl, because they're starters. And they're doing cartwheels for the recently returned prodigal son, Jeremiah Trotter, whose insertion as middle linebacker has turned the Eagles' defense from bendable to indestructible, and whose play has earned him a berth in the Pro Bowl too.

But, in their own blue-collar way, they'll reserve their biggest huzzah for the captain of the special teams, the guy who lays it on the line each week, the guy who carries his lunch pail, delivers big hits, and has his named called on play after play on special teams.

Ike Reese.

Philadelphia may be blue-collar, and it may be the core of a blue state.

But make no mistake about it.

They love Ike.

As they should.


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