Fall 2021 SS Magazine

QB Josh McCown unretires, leaves ESPN to join Philadelphia Eagles

After losing two quarterbacks in the past two weeks, the Philadelphia Eagles went searching for a reliable backup to starter Carson Wentz. They found their answer at ESPN.

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Josh McCown, who retired two months ago after 17 years of pro football and had begun working as an NFL analyst for ESPN, signed a one-year contract with the Eagles on Saturday. He’ll bring experience and leadership to a young group of quarterbacks, and considering Wentz has suffered season-ending injuries the past two years, he’s expected to be ready to play.

“Knowing Josh and the type of person he is and the high character and quality person he is, knowing his family dynamic and everything, I mean he still has a fire to play,” Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said. “I think he’s at that point in his career, if things work out, if he’s the backup, whatever it is, he can be content in that role. He just wants to help and he has that desire.”

Backup Nate Sudfeld broke his wrist on his non-throwing arm in the preseason opener, and third-stringer Cody Kessler left Thursday’s preseason game with a concussion.

At 40 years old, McCown joins his 11th NFL team after spending the past two seasons with the New York Jets, with whom he posted career highs in yards, completion percentage and touchdowns in 2017. McCown has now been with a team in every division except the AFC South.

“There were only a certain number of teams I think I would be interested in and that met the criteria I talked about, and this was certainly one of them,” McCown told the Delaware News Journal.

He wanted to be on a Super Bowl contender, as McCown’s teams have only made one postseason appearance, (2008 with Carolina), and McCown has never played in the playoffs.

And the Eagles wanted someone who would be a good teammate, which McCown has been everywhere he’s gone. Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery bonded with McCown when the two were teammates in Chicago (2012-13).

“Josh is awesome,” Jeffery said. “I don’t know one person that I know that can say nothing bad about him. He’s a great father. He’s a great human being. Just a guy that you love being around. Just come into the room and everyone gravitates to him.”

Moving from team to team has made McCown a lot of friends, but it’s also made for much uncertainty. That hasn’t always been wanted, but McCown can look back and see its benefit.

“I’ve always wanted to know that I’m going to be on this team for this amount of time so I can have my future set,” he told The Increase, a partner of Sports Spectrum. “Selfishly, I wanted to know everything was going to be OK. Looking over the course of my career and the way it has been so uncertain, I see how my circumstances have continued to put me in a space of faith all the time. I’m thankful for that.”

McCown grew up going to church in the south, but was really impacted his first few years in the NFL when he saw other men living out a life for Christ. The foundation he had growing up and the beliefs he held were being lived out in front of him, and he soon started seeing similar actions in himself.

“My life is not my own,” McCown says. “And that’s a very freeing thing. I’m free because I’ve surrendered to Christ. All the worldly expectations and standards are gone because I’ve surrendered and chosen to follow Jesus. All the things that used to weigh me down, I no longer have to worry about. I can live freely knowing there will be good days and there will be bad days. There will be days when I fall miserably short of the standard God calls to me to. But He still loves me.”

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