In the world of sports cliches, "It's a business" beats out "He's a great guy in the community" every time. And thus, Connor Barwin is no longer a Philadelphia Eagle.
That's a big bummer because Barwin, the Eagles defensive end who was cut on Thursday to save $7.75 million in salary cap space, really was a great guy in the community.
In Barwin's case, that meant the music community and the city as a whole. The Detroit native put his money where his mouth was, leveraging his sports celebrity, unabashed indie music geek enthusiasm in doing good for parks and recreation centers and the children they benefit around town.
Among musicians and promoters in the music scene — and city officials like Parks & Rec head Kathryn Ott Lovell, Barwin has a reputation as a detail oriented wonk who shows up for meeting and takes note, rather than just poses for photo opps. His events raise money — close to $200,000 at last year's MTWB show — and then he matches it with his own.
"The guy is the real deal," Lovell said last spring. He bleeds green on and off the field."
On a Thursday morning "Thank You Philly" Instagram post, Barwin said "I hope to see many of you at this our concert this year," confirming that the MTWB benefit show will go on, in 2017 at least. (Acts have not yet been announced.)
That's good, and one hopes they still happen after Barwin is gone. It's a drag that Barwin will no longer be around for the duration of the football season, though. In a sports town obsessed particularly with the Eagles, with a burgeoning music scene that's producing more first-rate indie bands than ever, Barwin has been a unique figure that links the two worlds.
He's the 6'4", broad-shouldered dude you'd see at the Courtney Barnett show at the Electric Factory or Sturgill Simpson concert at the Electric Factory, who'd be happy to talk music with anybody who approached him, who couldn't believe they were actually talking to an Eagle. And, he would do his best to move out of the way so he wouldn't block your view.
"People love, and are passionate about sports," he told me one day after practice last spring, while wearing a JAWN hoodie. "And people love, and are passionate about, music. And that's me. That's who I am. And it's a lot of people. The more I get immersed in the Philadelphia music scene, the more people I meet who are die-hard Eagles fans. To me, this is a way to unite music and sports and allow them to work together to make a difference."
He'll be missed.
In 2016, we asked Connor Barwin to submit 10 songs for a Spotify playlist of his current favorite jams.
One — Beyoncé's Jack White collaboration "Don't Hurt Yourself" from Lemonade — is not on Spotify, so he was allowed to add a substitute, Andrew Bird's "Capsized." Barwin listed the tunes in no particular order, so feel free to hit the shuffle button. Sorry, "Fly Like An Eagle" is not included.