KICK RETURNERS Darren Sproles, Chris Polk and Josh Huff get the headlines when the Eagles' special teams units dominate a game, but special teams aces like Chris Maragos do the dirty work.
Maragos, a backup safety, was a key part of the offseason initiative the Eagles undertook to configure the best special teams units in the NFL.
They have succeeded.
Not surprisingly, Maragos leads the team with 13 special-teams tackles. His maniacal devotion to the marginalized details of special teams play helped the Seahawks win the Super Bowl last season.
The Eagles signed him as a free agent, and, as Marcus Hayes found out this week, in Maragos the Birds got Mr. Clean, both in hairstyle and profile. A devoted Christian from Racine, Wis., Maragos campaigned his way onto the University of Wisconsin football team (from Western Michigan).
He then made it into the NFL as an undrafted rookie with the 49ers in 2010, landed a roster spot with the Seahawks in the middle of the 2011 season and has never shied away from a job - even if it meant being furrier than was comfortable.
Q You shave your head. Why?
I'm balding. Probably started my rookie year. It was getting thin up there, maybe because I was stressing out trying to get into colleges and play, and nobody would let me in. Trying to find a team to play with in the NFL.
Q What's the worst job on special teams, besides punt returner? The scariest job?
I don't know if there's fear, but one of the hardest things to do is front-line block on kickoff return. You've got a world-class athlete running full-speed. He's super strong and super fast, and he's got the whole field to work with. You've got to sit there, front him up and stop him from going. It's pretty difficult to do.
Q You're from Racine, Wis., south of Milwaukee and north of Chicago. Have you heard of the Racine Belles,
one of the women's baseball teams . . .
Sure! From "A League of Their Own!" I think my grandfather umpired in that league. You heard about them all the time. You understand the history of that for sure.
Q You're a man of faith, with a son named Micah, which also is a book in the Bible. Coincidence?
Micah means "Who is like God," so our prayer has been for him is that he will resemble the traits of God. That he would be a Godly, faithful man. A servant, for sure. He's 3 right now. He's a little whippersnapper. That guy's got some energy.
Q Your brother Troy was Bucky Badger, the Wisconsin mascot, when you played at Wisconsin. Was that an odd situation?
Actually, I was Bucky Badger, too. Once. I had to fill in for him. Fourth of July parade in Racine. In that furry suit, man. That Badger, that furry suit. I was dying.
It's the longest parade route in the state of Wisconsin. It was miles and miles [2.6, actually]. I spent hours and hours of sitting in that suit. It was probably the hardest thing I've ever done.