Haason Reddick grew up in South Jersey, played football at Haddon Heights High, and had to walk on at Temple after an injury his senior year of high school.
Four years later he was a first-round pick, and almost seven years later, he has become the Eagles’ single-postseason sack leader with 3.5, with another game still to go.
And it might have been the first of his two sacks Sunday that paved the way for the Eagles to reach Super Bowl LVII – just six plays into San Francisco’s first drive, Reddick hit Niners QB Brock Purdy on the right elbow, forcing a fumble the Eagles recovered and forcing Purdy out of the game with an injury.
"It's a pass play; tight end was on me. That's a recipe for disaster right there," Reddick said. "I thought he was going to chip. I didn't realize that he would be on me the whole time."
The Eagles got the ball after a challenge – it was initially called an incomplete pass – and on the Niners’ next drive, it was journeyman Josh Johnson under center for San Fran, completely changing the tone of the game and the Niners’ offensive strategy.
They would have to go back to Purdy late in the game after Johnson was knocked out with a concussion on a big hit by Ndamukong Suh, but before that happened, Reddick was there to flummox Johnson too – he sacked Johnson in the second quarter, and later, when Johnson fumbled a snap with just over a minute to go in the half, Reddick recovered, and the Birds got a touchdown to make it 21-7 at the half.
"I'm just glad to be any type of help, any type of asset to this team at the end of the day,” Reddick said. “I never think, 'Oh, I'm going to get this many sacks.' I just go out there. I play hard and when this clock is over, I'll see what happens."
During the regular season, Reddick led the team with 16.5 sacks of the Birds’ near-record 70 sacks, and after recording 1.5 sacks, three QB hits, and five tackles against the Giants, the ex-Owl had three tackles, two sacks, one tackle for loss, one forced fumble, and one recovered fumble in the first half Sunday.
Defensive Player of the Year?
"Give me my respect," Reddick said. "When they talk about everyone else, remember Haason Reddick as well."
That award has already been voted on and will be announced about 72 hours before Super Bowl LVII kicks off, but win or lose that night, Reddick will have one more chance to show why he deserved – or why he should’ve won – that accolade.
But of course, he’d much rather win the Lombardi.
"It's a blessing. It's a blessing," Reddick said. "It took me six years to get (to the playoffs). To be able to come home, my first year, and then get (to the Super Bowl) with the hometown team, it's a blessing."
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroWFAN
Listen live to 94WIP via:
Audacy App | Online Stream | Smart Speaker