Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson revealed his mental health struggles this season and how they dated back to when he attended junior college.

As it happens, beat writer Josh Tolentino had traveled to Kilgore College in East Texas to learn why Johnson had given back in a substantial way to his JUCO. Yes, there was the big donation and performance center built in Johnson’s name. And as Johnson became the public face for those battling depression, it’s clear that he’ll continue to be a source of inspiration for those in the small town who admire his fortitude.

In Kilgore, Lane’s a legend.

— Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport

Tell us who your favorite Eagles player is on the current squad and why: sports.daily@inquirer.com

Early Birds

The playoffs will be a proving ground for the Eagles, and there’s no better way to measure their progress than by going up against the GOAT. So if you’re defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon — whether you feel like he’s been judged too harshly or not this season — this is a key moment in which the defense will get a chance to contain a top quarterback in Tom Brady. The Eagles might very well see their season come to an end if Brady gets going and the predictions come true. But let’s see what happens in the rematch.

Speaking of opportunity, there’ll be a chance for some others to step forward. Eagles VP of football operations Catherine Raiche is among those whom the Vikings are seeking to interview for their GM job. And Phillies announcer Tom McCarthy gets a chance to do the national radio broadcast of the Eagles-Bucs game.

Off the Dribble

With the NBA trade deadline less than a month away, Ben Simmons’ stalemate with the 76ers has started to regenerate buzz in league circles. Aware of this fact, Simmons’ agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, had a meeting with Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey and general manager Elton Brand on Wednesday before attending the team’s 109-98 loss against the Charlotte Hornets.

Doc Rivers had a simple response when asked about trade rumors and whether he speaks with the Sixers front office about potential Simmons deals. “Don’t bring me anything that’s not going to happen.”

Next: The Sixers play the Boston Celtics at 7 p.m. Friday at the Wells Fargo Center and try to get back on track after their seven-game winning streak was snapped Wednesday.

On the Fly

The good news: Flyers captain Claude Giroux was named an NHL All-Star for the seventh time in his career on Thursday evening.

The bad news: The Flyers lost their sixth straight game as they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Boston Bruins. Cam Atkinson and Joel Farabee got the goals for the Flyers, but it was not enough as Boston rode a hat trick from David Pastrňák to victory.

While Giroux is the only current Flyers All-Star, the club has hopes that young defenseman Cam York will be one someday.

But despite being drafted 14th overall in 2019, York’s path to the NHL has had many twists and turns over the last 18 months, as Olivia Reiner writes. Having played the last four games with the Flyers, York hopes that is finally about to change.

Finally, while NHL players won’t be attending the Olympics in 2022, four players with local ties will. The Olympic men’s ice hockey tournament will take place in Beijing from Feb. 9-20.

Next: The Flyers are back on home ice Saturday to take on the New York Rangers at 7 p.m. (NBCSP).

Fleet Street

It’s a historic moment for the Union, and they’re not even in season yet. When Olivier Mbaizo and Jamiro Monteiro play in Cape Verde-Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations, it will be the first time two Union players have played against each other in a major international tournament. Jonathan Tannenwald has all the details on that and on the other top soccer games to watch this weekend.

Worth a look

  • Skating star: Isabeau Levito might not be able to qualify for the Winter Olympics this year, but the 14-year-old from South Jersey has a bright future.

  • Late bloomer: Roman Catholic guard Daniel Skillings has a scholarship to play for Cincinnati, and his rapid rise as a recruit came after he only started playing organized basketball in the ninth grade.

  • Buy Black: The Sixers are helping to promote Black-owned businesses, and it’s having an impact.

What you’re talking about

Here’s a sampling of some Eagles moments that will never fade for fans.

My favorite playoff moment has to be Patrick Robinson’s interception in the 2018 NFC Championship game. I mean, after the Viking’s first possession I, like many fans, was thinking, “Well, here we go again.” But that interception was electric and provided the spark that ignited what I think is the greatest Eagles playoff victory ever. —Stephen W.

Philly Special —Joe O.

I have to go with Wilbert Montgomery’s 42-yard touchdown run in the 1981 NFC championship victory over the Cowboys. —Bob A.

How can it be anything other than the strip sack? It was at that moment we knew we won the Super Bowl. Scott A.

My 18th birthday, November 23, 1970, Franklin Field, 1st Monday Night Football game. It was freezing and the Eagles beat the Giants and ruined their playoff chances. —Daniel W.

We compiled today’s newsletter using reporting from Josh Tolentino, EJ Smith, David Murphy, Marcus Hayes, Scott Lauber, Ellen Dunkel, Matt Breen, Jeff McLane, Gina Mizell.