Your Eagletarian swung by the Eagles' Youth Partnership's 17th playground build this morning, at the William D. Kelley School on North 28th Street. Planning to head back in a few hours, when players and coaches are scheduled to be there. This is a bigger space to spruce up than most of the builds I've covered over the years; Eagles Youth Partnership Executive Director Sarah Helfman-Martinez said that for the first time, the organization will be installing two turf play fields, instead of one.
The build is a really cool thing the Eagles do, that reflects about 6 months of work behind the scenes. "It's really grown so much," Helfman-Martinez said.
This year's project is particularly on point, in that because of the closing of a nearby school, Kelley and its play facilities will absorb about 150 more students this fall, Helfman-Martinez said.
All that said, the Eagles didn't seem to reach out for media coverage of the event the way they have in the past. Reporters who cover the team found out about it yesterday, more or less by accident. Ever since I was able to confirm that today is day of the build, everyone with the Eagles I've spoken with about it has emphasized that they want coverage to be about the event, and not team issues.
This is a different request, and kinda strange. In past years, the Daily News has always covered the playground build, both unto itself and as an opprtunity to get a word with key personnel; it was usually a rare chance to speak with former team president Joe Banner, for example.
It might be that new coach Chip Kelly, who seemed testy and impatient yesterday during a 12 minute and 53-second news conference that was cut short long before we ran out of questions, doesn't want to interact with us unless he's standing behind a lectern. A couple weeks ago, Kelly dodged reporters following a seminar at Penn's Wharton School.
Right now, access to the coaches and players certainly is less than it was during Andy Reid's tenure. And the playground build is a hard venue for a handful of Eagles PR people to monitor; I might (gasp!) sneak around a corner and interrupt Kenny Phillips's mural-painting to ask him about his knee. That surely would shake the organization to its core, and profoundly affect life on Earth as we know it.
Whatever the reason for the Eagles' skittishness, all you do when you try to restrict something is make people wonder what might be going on that you don't want us to know about. There are no messy contract disputes, or any other real serious problems we would ask players or coaches about today. As far as we know...
I'll sure be heading back over to the Kelly School to find out.