ALLENTOWN, Pa. — DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown met somewhere above home plate.
Smith’s celebrity softball event started with a home-run derby, and Brown’s baseball background quickly became apparent as he crushed underhand pitches over a makeshift fence placed deep in the Lehigh Valley IronPigs’ outfield.
After narrowly beating Cowboys star Micah Parsons in the derby on Saturday, Brown rounded the Coca-Cola Park bases, danced his way to home plate, and jumped in unison with Smith for an airborne chest bump.
The Eagles’ top two receivers will have to wait before they share a football field in a competitive setting, but Smith’s charitable event offered an early glimpse of the pair in a more lighthearted environment.
Brown was one of nine Eagles players to participate in Smith’s inaugural softball event, which he said would help forge a bond among the group.
“That’s a big part of it, just everybody being together and becoming a family,” Smith said before the game. “If you don’t have that connection with your teammates, that kind of messes everything up on the field.”
In some ways, Smith’s event was reminiscent of previous years when Carson Wentz would host a softball event at Citizens Bank Park. As a growing leader in the Eagles’ locker room, Smith got a strong turnout. Roughly two dozen NFL players participated, mostly comprised of his current or former teammates.
How did he get so many players to come out?
“You know people that know people,” he said.
Smith’s event came one day after Brown explained how the two receivers will help each other during the season. Smith put up 64 catches and 916 yards as a rookie last season, but will now have to figure out how to work alongside another top-flight receiver.
The Eagles sent a first- and a third-round pick to the Tennessee Titans for Brown on draft night and gave the 24-year-old a four-year contract extension worth $100 million to be their No. 1 wideout. He recorded two 1,000-yard seasons and 24 receiving touchdowns in his three years with the Titans, and it’s worth noting that production came in a run-heavy offensive system centered around Derrick Henry.
Brown might be the first receiver defenses have to game plan for, but he doesn’t think the “wide receiver No. 1″ title is mutually exclusive.
“In my opinion, Smitty is a wide receiver No. 1,” Brown said. “And he going against a cornerback No. 2, I expect Smitty to dominate. Just taking pressure off each other. Even being on the same sides, so you can’t really double. It’s great having another great wideout besides you.”
A day after making a handful of impressive plays during seven-on-seven drills, Smith echoed Brown’s sentiment before the start of the event.
“I feel like anybody in the offense in this receiving corps can be a wide receiver No. 1,” Smith said. “Everybody has the ability to go out there and make plays and do what they do. That’s why everybody is there. Being with him, it’s great, being able to learn from a guy like him. He sees me doing something wrong, he teaches me, lets me know what I did wrong. It helps me out.”
Even though Brown has the edge on Smith on the baseball diamond, the two both played a role in a comeback win for “Team DeVonta,” beating “Team Micah Parsons” on a walk-off home run from Jalen Hurts.
Smith’s team featured Hurts, Darius Slay, Patrick Surtain II, Brown, Nakobe Dean, Najee Harris, Avonte Maddox, Brandon Graham, Barrett Brooks, and Dallas Goedert.
Parsons’ team was comprised of Shyheim Carter, Elijah Moore, Jaylen Waddle, La’Mical Perine, Greg Newsome, Mack Wilson, Terrell Edmunds, Justin Hardee, Boston Scott, and Vinny Curry.
There weren’t many Gold Glove-worthy plays, but Smith did make a leaping catch at shortstop to save an out. In the final inning, he hit a ground ball up the middle and stretched it into a triple after some defensive mishap from Parsons’ team.
With Smith at third, Hurts hit a drive to left field for the 13-12 win.
Smith said he hopes to make the softball event an annual occurrence. All the proceeds from the day went toward the IronPigs’ charities and St. Luke’s Hospital.
“Finding ways to give back to the community, to be able to help everybody any way you can, that’s the main goal of it,” Smith said. “Being from where I’m from, being able to give back to the community ... means a lot.”