Haason Reddick
What it means to come home
By Dave Spadaro

Photos: Philadelphia Eagles; Reddick signing football photo: David Michael Howarth

South Jersey’s Haason Reddick played the first 5 seasons of his NFL career elsewhere – Arizona for 4 years, Carolina for one. And then, right before the 2022 season, he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles and came home. So far, it’s been an amazing ride, filled with many memorable homecoming moments:

•Winning the NFC Championship Game at  Lincoln Financial Field.

•Being named an All-Pro and Pro Bowl player in 2022.

•Recording 16 sacks in that ’22 regular season and another 3 ½ on the way to Super Bowl LVII.

And now this: a birthday party. His birthday party held at the Linc with dozens of young kids running and jumping on the Bouncy House, getting their faces painted, chasing each other in circles. Last month, Reddick celebrated his 29th birthday with about 45 foster children from Turning Points for Children. They greeted him with a screeching welcome and ended the evening by singing Happy Birthday and slicing into the football-field-shaped birthday cake (in Eagles Classic Kelly Green) in his honor.

“Here is your hometown hero from Camden, New Jersey through Temple University and now with your Philadelphia Eagles,” announces Eartha Holland from Turning Points for Children. “The one, the only… Haaaaassssoooonnnn Reddddddiccckkkk!”

Smiles. From every kid and all of the adults and, most of all, Reddick, a softie in every respect except when he’s on the field and wreaking havoc for the Eagles. He knows how much this means to the community and on this Monday evening, with a long week of preparation ahead for the next Eagles game in one week, he is happy.

“I never had this opportunity when I was a kid. You always think about your friends and maybe some of them who didn’t get to where they should. If they had met one person who made a difference in their life, how would things have turned out? I’m celebrating my birthday with these kids, and if I can change one life in any way, man, that’s what’s up,” 

Reddick says. “I’m not on television now. They can reach out and see me and know I’m real.

“They could be in my shoes someday. That would be incredible.”

Everything Reddick has done in the last 18 months back at home has been fairly incredible. In his first season with the Eagles, the team won 16 games, including the NFL title game in South Philadelphia. Reddick had more than 2 dozen family members and friends on hand to see a blowout victory over the San Franciso 49ers. 

It was almost too good to be true.

“Surreal. That’s what it was like,” says Reddick’s father, Raymond Matthew. “It’s something we didn’t dream about when Haason was young because it just didn’t seem possible. But then he’s in the NFL and that was amazing. To get to the Super Bowl? To win that championship game here? We celebrated. We cried. We had the greatest time. It was just, I don’t know how to describe it…amazing.”

And so here we are, the start of the 2023 Eagles season and, yes, they are once again thinking bigger than big. Now the question is: What does the team do next? What does Haason Reddick do for an encore? Last year was an immensely satisfying year in many ways and yet so disappointing, because the Eagles fell short in Super Bowl LVII. Reddick registered double digits in quarterback sacks for the third consecutive season and this time he took it to a new level – 16 of them in the regular season, another 3 ½ in the playoffs.

The rest of the league saw it too and provided Reddick with the kind of national platform he has long sought: He was named an All-Pro player and Pro Bowl selection for the first time in his career after ranking second in the NFL for sacks and first in strip sacks [a sack that forces the quarterback to fumble – he had 5]. Reddick changed the tide in that NFC Championship Game win, swooping in on 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy, hitting his throwing arm to force a fumble and, ultimately, KO Purdy from a game that the Eagles won, 31-7.

Every bit of it was remarkable. Reddick was never a superstar at Haddon Heights High School, and he gained exactly zero stars (out of 5) in the high-stakes college recruiting world. Instead, he walked on at Temple University and eventually worked so hard and never took “no” for an answer, that he became the 13th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft 4 years later. To then take it to the highest heights in terms of individual recognition in 2022 is astonishing.

And satisfying.

“It meant a lot to me to get that kind of recognition,” Reddick says as he stands in the hallways of the NovaCare Complex, an injured right thumb wrapped for protection after undergoing preseason surgery. “I’ve worked hard in my career. I’ve always put that work in front of everything else because it means so much to me to have success and to help my team win and to take care of my family. We all love the game. It’s amazing being in the NFL, but it is a business and it is our career. We don’t know how long it’s going to last. You want to make every minute count.” 

“My family is what matters,” he adds. “They’ve always been with me. I have 2 younger brothers playing now in high school, and they’re just getting started. I hope I can be a great role model for them and just keep working, just keep getting better. That’s what this is all about in the NFL. It’s so competitive. People aren’t going to roll over just because we’re the Philadelphia Eagles or because I’ve done whatever I’ve done on the field. It actually makes it harder. People are coming for us.”

So are the kids on this fall evening. Many of them really don’t know much about Haason Reddick, the man he is or the story he’s lived. They just know he is providing them some love, and they are all in with their smiles and giggles and their night of fun. 

“This is great, isn’t it?” Reddick says. “I usually don’t get to celebrate my birthday because it’s during the season, and I’m playing a game or preparing, watching film or whatever. So to be out here and to hear these kids singing to me, it’s all smiles. I love it. It’s why I’m home. Being an Eagle and doing the things we are doing as a team and then being able to impact people directly and to know that I’ve touched them, it’s the true meaning of all of this – all of the hard work, all of the blessings, my family, the people who have supported me. This is what it means to be home.”  



Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro has covered every Eagles game since 1987 and is seen and heard throughout the year on television, radio and Eagles coverage everywhere. You can hear his Eagles Live Podcast on iTunes.



November 2023
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