Part of the reason the Eagles have found so much success over the past two seasons is their deft blend of young players and veterans. Philadelphia has become an organization where players ranging from 25-year-old quarterback Jalen Hurts to 35-year-old center Jason Kelce have learned to work together seamlessly.
It makes sense, then, that its players would preach the value of this approach to the rest of the NFL. One such Eagles veteran—cornerback Darius Slay, 32—hammered home the need for older players to mentor younger players on the 2nd Wind Podcast on Tuesday.
“I had great leadership, great guys in the room. I’m talking all of them, they all put their hands around me and touched me in a different type of way,” Slay said of his early days in the NFL.
He cited former Lions defensive backs Glover Quin and Rashean Mathis as influences during his formative years in Detroit, noting that they helped teach him the value of friendship in the workplace.
“It’s a lot of vets that come into the game and they’re playing and you can just see the hate that they get,” Slay said. “You could be a five-year star and they draft a first-round rookie at your same position. All your intentions are, ‘He’s here to take my spot …’ Don’t treat him differently because you feel like the organization wants to go a different way, be made at the organization.”
The five-time Pro Bowler expressed frustration at some players’ unwillingness to help their younger teammates grow.
“That’s what I hate about definitely it comes to this league, man. A lot of guys don’t wanna help other guys become pros,” Slay said. “I don’t like that about the league. But I ain’t never gonna be one of them guys.”
Slay remains a potent cornerback—his 70-yard pick-six against the Patriots is the longest interception return in the league this season—but his leadership may ultimately set his team up for years to come.