EAGLES NOTEBOOK: DeVonta Smith, Rat Memories

Also, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler has two Eagles defenders ranked in his top 10

The dog days of summer are here for football fans. 

Another Sunday arrived without any football to watch unless you count that other kind of football with Italy and England playing in the Euro Final.

There are still 10 more weeks before the real stuff arrives, but the good news is there are August preseason games to watch, and the first one for the Eagles arrives on Aug. 12. 

Even before that, however, Eagles fans can spend an Aug. 8 evening watching the Eagles at their first open-to-public training camp practice since the summer of 2019.

To ease the longing, here are some thoughts - Midsummer Night’s Dream if you will:


DeVonta Smith did it again. He got the better of the first overall draft pick last spring, Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence.

Smith beat Lawrence in the voting for the Heisman Trophy in 2020 and he did it again at Saturday night’s ESPY award show in voting for the college athlete of the year award in male sports.

Also nominated on the category were Iowa basketball player Luke Garza and Oregon State soccer player Gloire Amanda.

Smith kept right on winning the night, looking stylish in an all-yellow suit, a little fashion number he dubbed “canary yellow.”

DeVonta Smith at the ESPYs, where he won college athlete of the year for male sports on July 10, 2021

DeVonta Smith at the ESPYs

It’s not something I would not look good in, but Smith rocked it.

It’s been mentioned by me before, but Smith, in my opinion, is reason numero uno to be excited about this Eagles season.


The Eagles haven’t engendered much goodwill in ranking and predictions by national pundits, but ESPN seems to have a different view, on at least a couple of members of the team’s defense.

Earlier in the week, cornerback Darius Slay was ranked as the ninth-best cornerback in the league and Fletcher Cox was ranked the fifth-best defensive tackle.

RELATED: Philadelphia Eagles CB Darius Slay Recruiting Steven Nelson ...

Jeremy Fowler did the rankings in conjunction with talking to executives and coaches throughout the league.

On Cox, who has made six Pro Bowls in nine seasons, one NFC exec said: “He’s still a problem to me. He was on a bad defense.”

Fletcher Cox

Fletcher Cox

Of Slay, Fowler wrote: “He has plenty of pedigree with 20 interceptions and 110 pass deflections, and he should have at least one more high-level year left.”


Inspired by my colleague Reuben Frank, who posted an excellent story over the weekend of some of his memories from his days covering the Eagles from 1980 through 1995, when the Eagles trained at West Chester University.

Roob's story can be found here:

It was before my time covering the Eagles, but I was taking classes at West Chester and working at the local dive bar Frank references, the Rat, for some of that time.

Some of my memories:

  • Randall Cunningham arriving at the Rat as a rookie in 1985, wearing clothes that looked like they were left over from the Disco era, with a multi-color satin shirt tucked into a pair of sleek black pants and some sort of bling draped around his neck that hung down to the middle of his shirt.

He stood shyly at the edge of the downstairs dance floor but mostly left alone by the patrons. I was working the door that night so my recollection of what happens next ends here.

  • Having more than a few adult beverages and shots at the bar on my off nights and their off days with my former high school teammate and friend who was on the Eagles, Rich Kraynak, and his good friend Mike Reichenbach. For the record, I could not hang with those two.
  • One night, as last-call approached and I was working in the food area of the bar, which was set up cafeteria-style and had a grill for hot sandwiches, hoagies, and a pizza oven, New York Jets defensive tackle Joe Klecko, and Temple star, bounded up to the counter and smacked his hands on the plex-glass covering the cold cuts and fixings, and said, “Make me a pizza,” then burst out laughing.

He had had a few drinks and I told him I got him covered. He threw me a $50, said to keep the change and he’d be at the bar when it was done.

I immediately became a Joe Klecko fan.

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.