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Brent Celek has lasted 10 NFL seasons: Here are 10 reasons

On Friday afternoons, with the Eagles' schedule finished for the day, Brent Celek grunts through push-ups alone with a trainer in the team's weight room. He goes to a massage therapist after the workout, ending a week without his favorite foods and with a 20-minute stretching routine before an early bedtime.

On Friday afternoons, with the Eagles' schedule finished for the day, Brent Celek grunts through push-ups alone with a trainer in the team's weight room. He goes to a massage therapist after the workout, ending a week without his favorite foods and with a 20-minute stretching routine before an early bedtime.

This is part of Celek's survival guide at 31 and in his 10th NFL season. Celek came to Philadelphia in 2007, and with Ryan Howard's Phillies career finished, Eagles long-snapper Jon Dorenbos is the only athlete in Philadelphia who has lasted longer than Celek. Celek signed three contracts with the Eagles, caught passes from 11 quarterbacks, missed only one game despite ailments all over his body, and has made his home in the area.

"I worked like I was going to be here," Celek said, "but you never think you'll be sitting here until you're sitting here."

So how has Celek lasted 10 years in the NFL? Here are 10 ways:

1. Luck

Celek has heard all the platitudes about his toughness, but even he admits he could have taken a helmet to the knee early in his career and not experienced any of what came after.

"You have to be lucky," Celek said. "We play a physical game, so anything can happen. Someone can come hit you a certain way and there's nothing you can do to stop that."

Celek has appeared on the injury report with injuries to his ankle, thumb, knee, back, hip, and shoulder throughout his career.

"If you play 10 years, everyone in the NFL will have those type of injuries I had," Celek said. "There's times I had to overcome a lot just to play. But they weren't injuries where I couldn't do it. Physically, it was just up to me, and I was able to get out there."

He has missed only one game - a Thursday night matchup with the Bengals in 2012 because of a concussion. With the league's concussion protocol, it's difficult for a player to be cleared in time for a Thursday game. If the game was on a Sunday, Celek might have lasted this long without ever missing a game.

"It'll probably [tick] me off when it's all said and done," Celek said. "But right now, it's let's stay healthy for the rest of my career - however long it is."

2. Sleep

Celek isn't one of those players who gloats about being the first at the facility. The reason is he's usually sleeping. He aims for eight to nine hours of sleep a night. He tries going to sleep about 10 p.m. and wakes up at 7 a.m.

"The older you get, the more you need to sleep," Celek said. "That's the way your body rejuvenates. Any injuries you have are getting fixed while you're sleeping."

Celek likes to read business articles on his phone, so he must remind himself to put the phone down and turn over. With a baby at home, Celek credits his wife for taking care of their daughter at night to give him the rest he needs.

"That's the thing - if she ever does cry in the middle of the night, I don't wake up," Celek said. "So I know I sleep good."

3. Eating

This was the hardest one for Celek to admit, because he appreciates good food.

"Usually things that taste good aren't really good for you," Celek said. "The older I get, the more I realize it doesn't burn off as quick."

So Celek reduced the amount of alcohol he drinks and follows a strict diet.

"I stay away from wheat and anything from a cow," Celek said.

Beef causes too much inflammation, Celek said, and he tries resisting bread and pasta - two of his vices. It doesn't help that he has a sweet tooth, either. To stick to the diet, Celek often does the cooking.

4. Stretching

Celek is devoted to stretching, which he does nightly on his stairs for 20-25 minutes. He focuses on his shoulder, core, and hips.

"The older you get, the more wear is on your joints," Celek said. "So for me, the key is opening those joints up any way I can."

Celek was an ardent follower of Chip Kelly's sports science program, which the Eagles preserved under Doug Pederson. He said he started focusing on his body six to seven years into his career. He noted how one tight muscle can cause problems elsewhere. The knee tendinitis from earlier in his career is gone because of the way he stretches his quadriceps.

"In the NFL, if you don't feel good or you have a certain body part that's not working well, no one cares," Celek said. "They just get rid of you. So if I want to be here, I have to do some of these things."

5. Adapting

Celek has lacked continuity at quarterback and has caught passes from Donovan McNabb, A.J. Feeley, Kevin Kolb, Michael Vick, Vince Young, Mike Kafka, Nick Foles, Matt Barkley, Mark Sanchez, Sam Bradford, and Carson Wentz.

"Having multiple different quarterbacks, over 10 years . . . it's something you've got to expect," Celek said.

He has adjusted to different offenses - from Andy Reid's to Chip Kelly's to Doug Pederson's - and has transformed from a pass-catching tight end to a blocking one. Celek said he thought he entered the league as a capable blocker, but the system early in his career required him to catch more passes. His role continued to change, and it was up to him to adapt.

"As things evolved, or we got more coordinators, or who's our quarterback, or what's going on on the O-line, that's kind of what a tight end is," Celek said. "They've got to use us the way we need to be used, whether it's that week, that year, or in that system."

6. Being coachable

Every coach who has worked with Celek gushes about him. He was a favorite of Kelly, who called Celek "everything you want," "totally selfless," and said "Brent Celek is what a Philadelphia Eagle looks like." Pederson called him a "pro's pro."

Celek's advice to younger players includes being quiet and doing as you're told - a good way to endear oneself to coaches.

"If you put yourself in their shoes, you've got 53 guys, and you're trying to get them all to do their own job so that the whole plan works," Celek said. "So my whole thing was just to do my job . . . and not worry about anything. Whether I'm catching the ball or not, it doesn't matter. . . .

"If I sit there and complain . . . the head coach needs to worry about it. And he's got enough to worry about as it is. So the last thing I want to be is a headache for him. So really, it just comes down to doing what I was told."

7. Being a good teammate

In April 2013, the Eagles drafted Zach Ertz in the second round. Instead of Ertz's replacing Celek, the two have been teammates for four years and both players signed contract extensions this offseason. Celek's longevity with the Eagles can be tied to the way he embraced Ertz and how the two have complemented each other while Ertz emerged as a starter.

"I've seen where guys have been drafted and the older guys have been jerks to them," Celek said. "And in the end, it never works out. In my mind, I'm like, I'm not going to do it that way. I'm going to embrace this, I'm going to make this kid as good as I possibly can and help out any way I can and make him feel a part of the team."

8. Mind-set and work ethic

By Year 10 in the NFL, a player usually forgets about a middle school slight.

Not Celek. As recently as last week, he still fumed about his youth football league. Because his middle school didn't have a team, he was assigned to whichever team had the least amount of players. He spent three years toiling on the worst squads.

"People said I couldn't do it my whole life," Celek said. "Even inside my own family."

He credited his high school coach, Jim Huxel, for believing in him, emphasizing work ethic and weight-lifting.

"I owe that guy a lot," Celek said.

Celek played college football at Cincinnati, which had a quiet spell of sending players to the NFL. He wasn't invited to the scouting combine, hurting his chances of getting drafted.

"They fuel me," Celek said of any instance when he was doubted in his career.

His coaches and teammates often cite how hard Celek works, but he made a confession that the Fridays alone in the weight room are as much for vanity as they are for strength.

"Fat-arm Fridays," Celek said. "You've got to make your arms look big for the game on Sunday."

9. Talent

Thirteen tight ends were drafted in 2007, and Celek is one of only two remaining in the NFL. He is fourth in franchise history with 376 receptions and eighth in franchise history with 4,792 receiving yards. He has never made a Pro Bowl, but he has started 118 of his 150 career games.

His best memory was the second Miracle at the Meadowlands. His favorite catch came in 2012, when he hurdled safety Ed Reed for a 24-yard reception.

"It hasn't been easy looking back on it," Celek said.

10. Embracing the city

Born and raised in Cincinnati, Celek could have played for his hometown Bengals. He feels a strong connection to his hometown, where he stayed for college and his family lives. But Philadelphia is now home.

"Maybe this is me being emotional, but the Bengals had an opportunity to draft me - multiple times - and they didn't," Celek said. "When the Eagles picked me, I basically told myself I'm going to give this city everything I've got. And in return, the city has been amazing to me to the point that I'm not going back to Cincinnati."

He is committed to becoming a lifer in the area. He even appeared in a Wawa advertisement. Celek has two restaurants in Philadelphia, but his true passion is real estate, which he plans to pursue when his playing career is finished. Celek signed a contract extension through 2018 that he said will allow him to finish his career with the Eagles. He has lasted this long by adhering to this list.

"Now Philly is my home - and will forever be my home," Celek said. "It's given me more than I could have ever dreamed of, to be honest."