It goes to show how scarred you are as an Eagles fan, especially when it comes to linebackers, when your first reaction upon the acquisition of DeMeco Ryans is “Oh no, what is wrong with him.” Note, this was even before knowing about his Achilles injury, which obviously had my paranoid Philadelphia fan brain spinning further upon discovery. However, in the last couple of weeks, I have turned the corner and all I can say is wow. Ryans appears to be for real. For instance, check out this bio piece by Jonathan Tamari in this morning’s Inquirer:
Just some tidbits from the article (from the positive side):
1) People at Alabama, who have worked with student athletes for 25 years, say he is the best they have seen;
2) He graduated Magna Cum Laude from college and was an award winning scholar athlete;
3) He won every conceivable football related award in college, and not to mention the pros (Rookie of the year, and two pro bowls),
4) He went out of his way to raise money in college for Hurricane Katrina relief (meanwhile, during my time in college, I was most worried about testing how much alchohol my body could absorb without completely shutting down),
5) Every former teammate, both college and pros, has raved about the guy like he is a combination of Brian Dawkins and Mike Singletary (the player that is), to the point where he was nicknamed in both stops as “coach” and “cap”,
6) Oh yeah, he played in the SEC in college (a long running personal theory of mine, albeit not scientific, on NFL linebacking success).
Wow, that is one hell of a background check. If he was applying for a legal job, he would be the equivalent of Harvard Law School grad, who graduated in the top of class, while being the editor of the law review.
The elephant in the room is, can his Achilles hold up and can be he be the same player physically as before? I’m going to go out on a limb and say yes. First, the guy is only 27, so this bodes well for his recovery. Clearly, given his background, he will work his balls off, so this is not an issue. Given modern science, there is no reason to believe one cannot recover fully from a torn Achilles, or we certainly would have heard about it by now (See: Howard, Ryan). Also, given the Eagles’ past behavior, something tells me they would not have been willing to make such a large financial commitment to Ryans ($5.9MM this season and $6.6 next season, a lot for a LB), if they had any worry the guy would be physically done. Not to mention, I have not heard this leaked from anywhere, which if true, you imagine would be the case (eg. ”Sources sat Ryans is done, etc.”).
So, color me convinced and excited about DeMeco Ryans. He just sounds like the kind of player we are going to love in this town. A tough hard nosed prototypical middle LB with tremendous leadership skills. Just writing that makes me giddy. Given the Eagles’ other moves this offseason (re-signing Cole, Herremans, Mathis, and Jackson), you really have to tip your cap to Roseman and company for a job well done. However, the draft is only a month away, so they are only one gross over reach for a player (say, an undersized, largely uncoveted DE perhaps?) away from screwing it all up again.