Photo: Dan Clerico, NortheastBravest.com
That is a headline I never thought I’d write.
MMQB’s Emily Kaplan today wrote a lengthy and fascinating piece about Danny Watkins, his failed NFL career and passion for spraying water on dancing orange and sometimes blue things. It paints a different, if not expected, picture of Watkins: that he couldn’t care less about football or money and really just wanted to fight fires, by golly. There’s something quite commendable about that, and I suggest that you read the whole piece. But, we’re interested in the Eagles bits (and self-aggrandizing) here, and there’s more than a hint of pissedoffedness from then-offensive line coach Howard Mudd:
Mudd remembers word spreading through the Eagles’ facility sometime during the second half of that nightmare 2012 season. This was Mudd’s 45th year in professional football, as a player and a coach. “Never have I heard something so ridiculous,” he says. “Not in my entire NFL career.”
Mudd thinks back to the local news footage, a mystery that, publicly, has never been solved. In August, Philadelphia sports blog Crossing Broad published photos that allegedly depict Watkins fighting a fire. The Philadelphia Fire Department looked into claims Watkins violated code; PFD Executive Chief Clifford Gilliam says the case is closed, no action will be taken against Watkins.
Mudd knows what he saw on the news… or maybe he had just heard about it so many times he convinced himself that he saw it. Now, he thinks back and sighs. “It wasn’t like it was a national emergency, like the fire department summoned anyone with experience to help,” Mudd says. “For whatever reason, he was just motivated to be there and not with us.”
I imagine that for offensive line coaches named Mudd, few things in life except, maybe, the death of a child* come between them and football. FOOTBALL! So the exchanges between Mudd and Watkins – which included Watkins calling him “Captain” – must have been delicious.
*And even then it’s like: “Ehhhh… can we hold off on the funeral until Monday?”
There’s also this:
When Watkins received an invitation to Radio City Music Hall for the draft, he was going to turn it down. He’d put on a pair of sweatpants and sit on his couch in West Kelowna, maybe have a few friends over. Plans changed when he found out he could visit with the New York Fire Department and tour Ground Zero. So he and some old firefighting pals flew east for draft day.
“I think we were more excited for the draft than he was,” says Schnitzler. “He was excited for the fire-related stuff.”
Like I said, this is all very commendable– pursuing one’s passion instead of seeking fame and fortune. The antithesis of a professional athlete. Of course, Watkins is still a guy, and he wasn’t above sending pics of his very own fire hose to a local news personality during his time with the Eagles…