By Zain Bando
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – In their final media session of the week, the Philadelphia Eagles maintained a loose and relaxed vibe ahead of the Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs.
For Miles Sanders, the fourth-year running back from Penn State, blocking out distractions and only focusing on the task of clinching the team’s second Lombardi Trophy in six years is the main priority, he said.
“Control what you can control, enjoy the moment and win,” Sanders said.
Sanders, 25, has had his best season in Philly thus far, rushing for 1,269 yards and 11 touchdowns, including two scores in Philadelphia’s thrashing of San Francisco in the NFC championship game.
The Eagles have rolled through the past two months of play with relative ease, even after a shoulder injury briefly sidelined quarterback Jalen Hurts near the end of the regular season. The Eagles still managed to earn home-field advantage and the conference’s No. 1 seed.
Despite his role as the backup quarterback, Gardner Minshew treats every repetition with the caveat that he may compete in the big game, thus adding to his relaxed mentality. Meditation and reading are just two ways he stays zoned in during his pregame routine.
“I just read (‘Wuthering Heights’) in the locker room and try to be pretty mellow (before games),” Minshew said.
Unlike Sanders and Minshew, Hurts, who won a national championship in 2018 as a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide, uses faith as a tool for motivation on and off the field. Hurts has looked unbothered since his Week 15 injury while also proving doubters wrong in the process, he said.
“I usually keep my prayers to myself, but I say God knows (what’s best for me),” Hurts said. “God knows. I lean on him in the center of everything I do because I know that without God, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I wouldn’t be the man I am today without having that faith in him, integrity, leadership, diligence and all these things. I think the biggest thing is that you get influenced by so much around you that you want to, you know, pray that God called you the person you want to be.”
As for anyone who believes Hurts nor the Eagles have a chance at greatness Sunday, Hurts had a simple message.
“I had a purpose before anyone else had an opinion,” Hurts said. “It’s not about anybody else. Y’all know you liked that one.”
Zain Bando is a sports media graduate student at Medill. You can follow him on Twitter (@zainbando99) and add him on LinkedIn here.