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It makes all the Xs and Os sense for the Eagles to start rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts over Carson Wentz, but there’s another undeniable factor working in the Houston native’s favor: style.
Put simply, Hurts is the coolest player on the team.
The Eagles have become boring, unfun and, frankly, downright miserable to watch in these post-Super Bowl years.
That 2017 championship team was overflowing with awesome personalities who could back it up on the field. Chris Long. Malcolm Jenkins. LeGarette Blount. Torrey Smith. Jay Ajayi. The list goes on. With Hurts being named the Eagles’ starting quarterback for this Sunday, that magic can be recaptured.
Apologies to all the avid hunters in the area, but Wentz’s outdoorsman-specific Instagram account where he kills roosters and skins deer doesn’t really have the same jazz.
But Hurts? He’s got style AND substance.
He doesn’t miss when he’s throwing touchdowns on 4th and 18. He doesn’t miss when he’s walking into the Linc. Take this snap from early fall.
He’s rocking that Boobie Miles Permian Panthers jersey from Friday Night Lights fame (the TV series is better than the movie, btw). Simply iconic. It looks like good quality too. He didn’t buy it off DHGate for $15 in a bulk order with his college teammates at Oklahoma. He’s donning that hometown team Astros baseball cap with the classic ’90s script branding. Oh, don’t forget to check out his kicks with those Reverse Shattered Backboard Air Jordan 1s that are going for $900 on StockX.
It’s more than the clothes, though. Listen to him talk about his game. He oozes moxie. He’s as confident as a kid playing rough-touch football at 18th and Johnston.
“I think I’m one of a kind, being able to use my athleticism in the pocket when needed and get freaky in the open field when I have to as well,” Hurts told Steve Mariucci, a former head coach and commentator on NFL Network.
“Excuse me,” said the 65-year-old white guy from Upper Michigan. “Get freaky?”
(New life goal: for Hurts to run for a 78-yard touchdown in a win over the Cowboys on Monday Night Football and tell reporters after the game that he “got freaky.”)
“It’s like ‘the it factor’,” Hurts said, trying to make Mariucci, a man nearly three times his age, understand what it means when he starts juking linebackers into next Tuesday. The it factor? Yeah, Hurts has it.
At 22 years old, he’s already learned to connect with fans in unique and hilarious ways.
Over the summer, he saw a mom post that her son was getting called “Jalen” because he had the rookie’s name embroidered on his school backpack. So the QB had the kid’s name embroidered on his backpack. In a year where every day felt like a Tuesday, was there a more pure social media interaction than that?
So many athlete-fan interactions feel forced or an extension of branding, but this was enough to warm the heart of any pessimistic Philadelphian.
The Birds used to be fun — and it made every other facet of fans’ lives infinitely better.
Water ice was sweeter. Cheese Whiz was gooeier. Beer was colder. An Eagles team that’s contending and easy to root for is transcendent for the city.
Jalen Hurts probably won’t make the Hall of Fame, but putting him front and center — as the starter over Wentz — will make this hellacious Eagles season more bearable.