June 06, 2018
Eagles coach Doug Pederson started his Wednesday morning press by noting the larger-than-usual crowd size – which is really something considering the contingent of Philly football writers is already one of the largest in the country.
But there was no hiding what was going on. The CNN truck parked outside the NovaCare Complex was a dead giveaway.
Something bigger than sports was happening, and the Birds' Super Bowl winning coach was the sacrificial lamb sent out to answer questions about why his team was practiced on Tuesday, rather than enjoying a party on the South lawn of the White House.
And Pederson, well, he didn't want any part of talking about it. He'd much rather talk about how Mike Wallace is fitting in on the receivers room or the latest on Jason Peters and the offensive line. Unfortunately, there was no where for the coach to hide.
Here's a partial transcript of his back and forth with reporters — most of it before the first football question is even asked.
PEDERSON: Glad to see so many people for an OTA practice. This is great. Welcome.
Q. What was your role in the team's decision on how to handle the White House?
PEDERSON: This is going to be a blanket statement and then I' not going to discuss it further. I was looking forward to going down. we did something last season that was special — a milestone for Philadelphia, for our organization – and I was looking forward to going down and being recognized as world champions.
It is what it is. We're here today, got an OTA practice. I'm focused on getting through these next couple days and getting ready for training camp.
Q. Are you upset that you're team is being accused of trying to pull off a political stunt?
PEDERSON: No. No. I'm not discussing it. It's over. What you've seen and what you've heard is enough. I'm not going to stand here and discuss it, because we've got two OTA practices, a mandatory camp next week, and I'm focused on that.
Q. What's the mood on the team?
PEDERSON: Great. Team's great.
Q. Does it bother you that you're up here instead of the owner?
PEDERSON: No. We're united. We're a team. Been that way since I got here.
Q. How do you make sure it doesn't become a distractions.
PEDERSON: We're focused on today, getting a great practice in today, tomorrow, three days next week. And our goal is 2018, and that's motivation enough.
Q. Do you think you need to address this in a team meeting?
PEDERSON: No... no.
Q. When you practiced yesterday, was everyone talking about it?
PEDERSON: Nobody was talking about it. It's over. We're moving on."
Q. How do you eliminate distractions?
PEDERSON: How I cut it out is I focus on today. I come in here with energy, sit in front of the team and say we've got a great day of practice coming up and we're going to make the most of it and get better as a football team and that's how I avoid distraction.
Q. Were you able to get another day of practice because you didn't go?
PEDERSON: No, because this is actually a four-day week. You get 10 OTAs [total] and we were able to get all 10 in with the four this week.
Q. Did you think about doing anything else with the team when the White House cancelled?
PEDERSON: No. Like paintball and bowling and all that? Golf? Nah. That would've been more fun but we're all about football here.
Q. But there were other events planned in D.C., right? Why were those cancelled?
PEDERSON: Probably because we didn't go. ...
Q. What is your message to the fans?
PEDERSON: We've got the greatest fans in the National Football League. When we had that parade back in February, our true fans, they're beside us, we're beside them. Love everything about the people who come and watch and support us at the stadium and at training camp. I can't say enough good things about what our fans have done for us, the support, the love we've felt all offseason and continue to feel.
[NOTE: What followed was the first of a handful of football questions – including on the status of Carson Wentz – before there was more White House talk.]
Q. Are you disappointed that other players weren't as excited to go
PEDERSON: I can't speak for other players. I'm just speaking for me.
Q. How many were going down?
PEDERSON: I can't answer that.
Q. The logistics, from the organization standpoint, when was the decision made?
PEDERSON: Rephrase. I mean, Monday night is when I found out.
Q. To get the clearance for the specific players?
PEDERSON: Again, I'm not going to discuss particulars of that trip. It's over. It's behind us and we're moving on
[NOTE: I believe there was a Michael Bennett question in here. Spoiler alert: Doug isn't worried that he hasn't been at OTAs.]
Q. How important is Malcolm Jenkins' leadership in moments like this?
PEDERSON: Gosh, I'll tell you, he's done so much. Very passionate, obvious, not only with this football team but in the community. He's got a great drive, great motivation. I love what he's been doing. We stand by him. For us, it's all about team and unity and supporting our guys. And that's one thing I love about this team.
Q. There's so much attention on who will go and who won't. Do you think, in the future, teams just shouldn't go?
PEDERSON: I'm not going to speak for other teams. I just know I was looking forward to it. Listen, you win a world championship or an NCAA championship or any championship and you want to be recognized that way, that's great. Again, I'm not going to speak for other teams. But I was looking forward to it.
You can watch the full press conference here:
Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports