INSIDE THE Panasonic Club of Lincoln Financial Field, Bill Bergey charged from the room's threshold toward Jeremiah Trotter as if he were 40 years younger, a beeline to the target, arriving with emotion.

Separated by eras, the two men are tethered by both the shared experience of the position they played and the intensity with which they played it, an intensity that put them into the team's Hall of Fame, and thus into that room Sunday.

There were other Eagles Hall of Famers there for the luncheon to honor Trotter and longtime broadcaster Merrill Reese as the latest inductees: Brian Westbrook and Mike Quick, to name a couple. But as perennial Pro Bowl middle linebackers, Bergey and Trotter share a cult of toughness and self-torture, each with a pair of rebuilt knees as living reminders of the unending intensity and inhuman pain threshold required to both play the position and play at a level that landed them among the team's all-time elite.

"I've got five pounds of titanium here," said Bergey, pointing to one knee. "And five pounds of titanium there," he said, pointing to the other.

"I don't have any titanium, but I've had a lot of knee surgeries," said Trotter, who played from 1998 to 2009. "I remember Rich Burkholder telling me that whenever he went to those trainer events at the end of the year, 'You're the one the guy we talk about.'

"They'd always ask: 'How are you playing on that knee, on that level?' I just thank God. He kept me healthy . . . Just to play 11 seasons. It's a blessing."

Trotter gave the Lord some help. He had his own process of mind over matter: dislike of the opposition sometimes bordering on demonization. Bergey, too, was so fired up before and during games, he said, that relationships with even his teammates were sometimes tested.

So I asked them about the topic of the week, about players fraternizing on the field after a loss. Did watching all those smiling, laughing Eagles players among Seahawks players last week bother them as it did some fans?

"I would not appreciate anyone doing that," said Bergey, who played from 1969 to 1980. "The laughing and the joking . . . You've got 16 opportunities. Stay completely ingrained and engulfed in what you are doing."

"I'll put it like this: It's not something I would do," Trotter said. "Because when I went into the competition, for the time period, I didn't like those guys. And I made it up in my mind that they didn't like me, either. That's just the way I competed. It gave me the edge to go out there. We play a violent sport. And when the game was over with, I left everything on the field. It was time for me to go to the locker room."

I offered some of the explanations I have heard from players and those who don't think much of it: Opposing players sometimes share agents, sometimes come from the same school or even the same conference, have been part of some player's wedding or even each other's.

That all existed in his day, too, Trotter said. "I'll see you in the offseason," he said.

And if players say they gave it their all, that there's nothing they can do now?

"It's got to bother you, though," Trotter said. "Losing's got to bother you a little bit. It should bother you . . . "

He kept repeating this as I kept adding to the what's-the-harm argument. It is not an uncommon sight to see hockey opponents meet after grueling games against each other, I tell him. Even fight combatants have been seen talking and exchanging handshakes in the alleys between dressing rooms afterwards.

"I do understand the game has changed," Trotter said finally. "There were times I made a big hit and would help the guy up . . . that gesture got to old players. So I can see it. I'm the old player now. so I'm not going to criticize those guys if they want to go up and say hi to a buddy. But when I see you laughing, going too long or too hard like the loss didn't bother you . . .

"I mean, I was pissed off after a loss . . . You see guys acting now like they had a barbecue."

You'll see it again tonight, too. At least at halftime you will, when Trotter trots out there on those God-given, demon-driven knees of his and takes his place among the team's greats - smiling and laughing, a barbecue for, and from, the ages.

@samdonnellon

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