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He's lean (actually, he's pretty buff), he's mean (on the field) and he's green all over. Not only is Eagles' linebacker Connor Barwin proud to wear his green for the city of Philadelphia, he's also proud to live green. Aside from riding SEPTA when he can, Barwin is partnering with NRG -- the company that brought solar panels to the Linc -- to bring residents new plans to bring solar power into their homes.
New partners, new team, we asked Barwin how his first season -- and winter -- in Philadelphia shook out.
What was the hardest thing about moving to Philadelphia?
The hardest thing initially was finding a place to live. Deciding what neighborhood I wanted to live in. But I’m very happy where I settled. I’m over a couple blocks from Rittenhouse and I really like the neighborhood I’m livin’ in.
You’ve know some of your teammates for a while. Did any of them help you in deciding where to live?
Brent Celek and Jason Kelce did. Brent’s been here for I think 7 years and Kelce’s been here 2 or 3 years. I knew them prior from playing with them both at University of Cincinnati and they were both very helpful and knew I was a city-type guy and wanted to live in Philly. They gave me pretty sound advice on where to live.
And did they help with the transition onto the Eagles?
Oh yeah, right away. You know it's hard going to a team out of college or any time you join a new team and don’t know anybody, but it was much easier for me knowing Brent, Jason and Trent Cole, who also went to Cincinatti, it really made the transition a lot smoother.
Is it intimating as a player coming into Philadelphia knowing how passionate the fans are and the city is?
I wouldn’t say it’s intimidating. Honestly, it’s exciting. I remember the first time I walked into the Nova care facility -- you walk through the hallways and you see all the great players who played here, how long the team has been around -- you know it’s very exciting to be a part of that.
Speaking of exciting, you guys had a pretty great run for the first season under Chip Kelly. What's been the best part?
The best part of it for me was that it was a group effort, a team effort. We had great leadership from Chip and his staff and also just the guys on the team. It hasn’t been just one or two guys. I think the season resonates with the kind of work hard, blue-collar mentality of the city and that’s kind of the mentality that we’ve taken as a team. WE’ve continued to just work keep our heads down and try to improve every week.
So you guys work hard, but what about play? Which of your teammates makes you laugh the most?
I wouldn’t say we have a team clown, but I would say for me, I’m most entertained by Trent Cole. He’s just like a big old kid. You know he eats candy all day long and just says fantastic things every day that entertain everybody.
What’s the difference between Texans and Philly fans?
I would say they’re both very passionate. I’m very fortunate to have played for Houston and for Philly now. In Houston we sold out every game. In Philly, you know it’s going to be a sell out every game. They love their football in both cities. As far as the differences, Philly might have a little more honest fans. They’ve been following football a little bit longer than the fans in Houston and I think you have to like that about the Philly fans.
You’re known for being environmentally conscious, how did that start? Well, my dad was (and still) is a city manager and I can just remember him talking about sustainability and recycling and energy when I was a kid and just having an appreciation for where you live and taking care of the community that you live in. It’s something that I’m passionate about and I just try to help out when I can.
I try to do as many green things as I can, so I partnered with NRG, who powers the link with their solar panels and they’re now bringing power to the homes in Philadelphia. There are two great plans – the Eagles fan plan. If you sign up online, you get an authentic Eagles helmet. The other plan is the learn and conserve plan. It’s a smart thermostat and it’s really pretty cool. It gets to know your habits and when you’re not there, it conserves energy.
And instead of driving, you take SEPTA, right?
I ride SEPTA, yes. My dad was a big public transit advocate. He tried for years and years to push public transit in Detroit. We grew up taking the bus and stuff like that so I try and do that when I can.
What is the craziest thing you’ve ever seen on SEPTA? Well, (laughs) I haven’t seen anything too crazy, but we lost a couple of games in a row early on in the season and I had some fans telling me how they felt (laughs). It’s awkward, but I said I was sorry and we're going to work on it!
Barwin's got that right, there's always next season to work on it. And with free agency underway, it feels like it's right around the corner.