This is the fourth time now since June rookie Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has had to stand in front of the media and talk at length about an off-the-field incident.
First, Nelson Agholor was accused of sexual assault in an incident involving a dancer at a gentlemen’s club in South Philadelphia (no charges were filed).
In July, Nigel Bradham was arrested in Miami for assault and then was arrested again in October after authorities said TSA workers at Miami Airport found a loaded gun in a backpack he brought through security. Both cases are still active.
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And now Josh Huff faces several charges after he was pulled over for speeding on the Walt Whitman Bridge and police allegedly discovered a small amount of marijuana and a gun.
Pederson said Wednesday he addressed the team earlier in the day about the rash of off-the-field incidents and again emphasized the importance of making “smart choices.”
Pederson, an assistant coach under Andy Reid both with the Eagles and Chiefs, is in his first year as a head coach at any level above high school.
“Once you leave here, I don’t know what you’re going to do,” Pederson said. “I can’t control what you do once you leave these premises, neither can the Philadelphia Eagles control what I do once I leave these premises.
“I just know who I am as a person and I just try to relay that to the team and just let them know that, ‘Hey guys, the spotlight is on us. In this city? In this market? The spotlight is on everything we do and you have to be smart, you have to make right choices, you have to do things differently. You just have to do them differently because everything’s magnified.’
“But again, once they leave here, that’s the hardest thing to control."
Pederson so far hasn’t handed out any discipline to the players involved in off-the-field incidents, although he said that isn’t necessarily a policy and could change depending on additional information being obtained or the severity or nature of future incidents.
None of the players involved has been held out of practices or games so far.
Huff was at practice on Wednesday and Pederson said he'll play against the Giants Sunday.
Huff, a third-round pick in 2013, has only 48 career receptions but ranks eighth in NFL history with a 27.7-yard kick return average.
“I think that there comes a time when there could be some discipline like that,” Pederson said. “Obviously, this could be the case.”
Every player involved in any off-the-field legal matter is also subject to possible NFL discipline.
“Is it something that I condone? Is it something that I would expect? No, it’s not,” Pederson said. “Again, it goes back to being a man and making decisions.
“These guys are professional athletes. They are still ... young adults, learning about life. Young kids. These are the things that they need to focus on and they need to see. I’ve been through that as a player, I’ve seen it with other teammates and things like that.
“They need to know that the decisions and the choices they make away from this building are going to affect them as a player. It’s going to affect, eventually, the team. I think eventually, it’s going to affect their future as a player in the NFL. ...
“I just want to make sure these guys, that I’m doing right by these players and they’re doing right by themselves. And that we’re handling our business away from this building right. And if that means discipline at some point, then we address it at that point.”
Pederson is big on family and talks about it often in football and non-football contexts.
He called himself “the father of your house” and said it’s important to continue teaching his players as if they were his kids.
“Just keep reiterating the importance of who you represent, what you represent, your families, the Philadelphia Eagles, and you’ve got to make smart choices,” he said.
“It’s all about choices and consequences in life and if you make bad choices you’ve got to suffer the consequences, so we’ve just got to keep talking about it. ... We just keep talking about it. We just keep talking about it.”
The Bradham and Huff incidents both involved guns, and Pederson said he doesn’t understand why players need them.
“I have them,” he said. “I have hunting rifles and things like that. But they’re registered, they’ve got permits for them. Again, there’s league policies, there’s the Philadelphia Eagles’ policy and those are things that we visit every year and we just need to continue to revisit these things.
“I don’t necessarily understand why they need guns outside of maybe sport hunting or whatever. But we just continue to educate our players and try to curb it the best we can.”