Eagles Bring Back Two Former Players as Consultants
Brent Celek and Darren Sproles are returning to the Eagles. Not in uniform, of course, but as members of the team’s football operations department as personnel consultants.
The team made the announcement on Friday and revealed yet another shakeup in its medical department. It is the third straight year the Eagles have reconfigured their medical staff.
Tom Hunkele will be the new director of sports medicine and Ted Rath will be the director of sports performance.
The Eagles have suffered more injuries than most NFL teams the past two years after they let go of their top two doctors, Peter DeLuca and internist Gary Dorshimer. Head trainer Chris Peduzzi was also released in that purge shortly the Eagles won the Super Bowl. Those three had worked with the Eagles for approximately 60 years.
“One of the things that obviously has been an issue for us has been the injury situation,” said Roseman last month. “When we look at the last three years, in 2017, we were able to overcome it. The last two years, the injuries have really hurt our football team.
“There is a part of that that is natural during the game. Injuries are going to happen. But we have to figure out a way to get better here. We can help from a front office perspective by looking at the players that we bring in. Hope is not a strategy when it comes to injuries. When you bring in guys that are injured, it obviously increases the risk that they will get hurt again.”
The Eagles are not bringing back two members of their sports science team, including Shaun Huls, who was the director of high performance and brought in by former coach Chip Kelly in 2013, and director of rehabilitation Shireen Mansoori, who was hired less than two years ago.
Hunkele spent the last 14 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, where he served as the coordinator of rehabilitation/assistant athletic trainer. In his role with the Vikings, Hunkele assisted in the evaluation and care of all injuries sustained and helped to implement proactive treatment and rehabilitation programs.
Hunkele, who served as a physical therapist with the NovaCare Rehabilitation staff from 2000-05, was part of a Vikings staff that honored by their NFL peers as the 2017 Athletic Training Staff of the Year.
Rath spent the last three seasons with the Los Angeles Rams, beginning his stint with the Rams in 2017 as the team’s head strength and conditioning coach before being promoted to director of strength training and performance in 2018.
In 2017, Rath was named the Strength Coach of the Year by the Professional Football Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association, an award voted on by strength and conditioning coaches around the NFL. That season, according to Football Outsiders, the Rams finished as the healthiest team in the NFL based on adjusted games lost due to injury.
An 11-year veteran, Celek played his entire professional career in Philadelphia and capped it off by helping the Eagles capture the first Super Bowl title in franchise history with 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.
Celek was selected by the Eagles in the fifth round (162nd overall) of the 2007 NFL Draft and went on to make 398 catches for 4,998 yards and 31 touchdowns. At the time of Celek’s retirement, his 398 catches and 4,998 yards ranked fourth and eighth, respectively, in franchise history.
Sproles announced his retirement from the NFL following the 2019 season. A three-time Pro Bowler and 2014 All-Pro, Sproles finished his 15-year career with the fifth-most all-purpose yards in NFL history (19,696), trailing only Jerry Rice (23,546), Brian Mitchell (23,330), Walter Payton (21,803) and Emmitt Smith (21,564).
The team is also bringing back defensive end Connor Barwin as a special assistant to general manager Howie Roseman. Barwin, whose role was reported several weeks ago, played 10 seasons with the Houston Texans (2009-12), Philadelphia Eagles (2013-16), Los Angeles Rams (2017) and New York Giants (2018).
Jeremiah Washburn, who is the son of former Eagles assistant and wide-nine guru Jim Washburn, was named as the team’s director of player personnel and senior defensive assistant. He has 18 years of NFL experience in both coaching and scouting roles. Last year, he served as an advanced projects coordinator for the Eagles.