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Saquon Barkley: 'What This City Is About!' Eagles New Star Reveals Feelings About Signing with Philadelphia

Saquon Barkley wanted to be near home and play for a team that consistently wins and aims to show the world he's got a lot left at the age of 27
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PHILADELPHIA – Saquon Barkley sat there wearing a Philadelphia Eagles hoodie, and if you think it looked strange, imagine how it felt to be wearing it.

“When I put this hoodie on, it definitely felt a little different,” said Barkley, during his introductory press conference at the Philadelphia Eagles’ NovaCare Complex on Thursday. “And seeing my daughter putting on Philadelphia Eagles stuff.

"We’ve been on the worst side of the rivalry for the last couple years, I guess you could say, but I’m happy, I’m happy to be a Philadelphia Eagle."

For six years, Barkley wore the colors of the New York Giants. Not anymore.

General manager Howie Roseman signed him away from the Eagles’ NFC East rivals before the legal negotiating period was an hour old on Monday.

Maybe even before that, since the NFL is now investigating whether Roseman illegally tampered with the process of recruiting Barkley based on comments made by Penn State head coach James Franklin.

Regardless, Barkley will be with the Eagles for at least two seasons after signing a three-year contract with up to $37 million.

Saquon Barkley

Saquon Barkley

It was an easy decision for him, since he is a Pennsylvania kid, playing high school ball an hour outside the city in the Lehigh Valley then heading to Penn State.

“The biggest thing is we wanted to stay close to home,” he said. “It’s a blessing for Thanksgiving and Christmas, I can go right to my momma’s house. My kids can see their grandparents. My kids can see their aunts, uncles, and cousins. That was important."

Barkley is also very familiar with the Eagles organization. Not only did he play against them twice a year, but his old PSU teammate, Miles Sanders, spent four years with them.

“Watching them from far away, everything this team is about, everything this city is about, they have that mentality,” he said. “They want to win. Last year being 11-6 and making it to the first round, that’s a down year. That’s the great coaching I want to be a part of. We have to have that mindset that we want to do way more.

“I know how special this place is and I know how special a player I believe I can be and I’m just happy to be a part of it.”

That won’t make Giants fans very happy.

Barkley, who said he thought about wearing No. 8 before dismissing to wear No. 26, became public enemy No. 1 in the New York/North Jersey region.

“They’ve created so many memories," he said. "I don’t think I really handled it the right way on social media. I think I could have given a proper goodbye. I’ll forever feel great for the Giants fans.”

Barkley, 27, has plenty of wear and tear over his time in the NFL, the kind of wear and tear that comes with playing behind one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines in New York and on the unforgiving and much-maligned turf at MetLife Stadium.

Yet, he has played at least 13 games in five of his six seasons and delivered his second season of plus-1,300 yards just two years ago.

It’s tantalizing for Eagles fans to think what Barkley can do, if he stays healthy, behind an offensive line that is one of the best in the game.

“To be able to get a fresh start, it’s good, it’s something new, a different excitement,” he said. “I feel like a rookie all over again. New team meetings, new locker room, everything, but also just being around talented guys. Especially on the offensive side of the ball. You’ve got Jalen (Hurts), you’ve got AJ (Brown), DeVonta (Smith), a tremendous offensive line.

“I feel like I’m a special player and I’ve still got a lot left and I’ve got a lot to prove. I just can’t wait to get on the field with those guys and prove it and show the world.”

As for his health, well, Barkley had an answer to any concerns there might be.

“I pride myself in the way I take care of my body,” he said. “I pride myself in the way I train, and I’m a big believer in learning from the greats. The Walters (Payton), the Barrys (Sanders), the list goes on and on. I’m not comparing myself to those guys but a lot of those guys played until well into their 30s.

“I don’t get into the analytics. None of that stuff. I believe that the work you put in it is what you get out. I’ll just continue to have that mindset.”

He said Hurts and backfield mate Kenny Gainwell were two of the Eagles he spoke to first, and Brandon Graham greeted him when he pulled up to the NovaCare Comlled for his press conference.

Barkley said he can’t wait to see how defenses play the Hurts and him in the RPO game.

“Pick your poison,” said Barkley. “You can collapse down and take me away, then you’ve got Jalen. If you want to stick with Jalen, then you’ve got me running behind an awesome offensive line.

“I’m looking forward to all that. It’s not just Jalen and the offensive line, it’s all the talent on the team.”

Barkley adds to that talent core, and that Eagles hoodie will only get more comfortable on him.