PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Josh McCown had played 16 years in the NFL without ever playing in a postseason game. He retired in June. Then Nate Sudfeld fractured his wrist injury in the preseason and the Philadelphia Eagles lured him out of a broadcasting job.
On Sunday evening in South Philadelphia, playing on his 11th team, the 40-year-old McCown found himself in a situation he’s never been in before — playing in an NFL playoff game. McCown became the oldest player in NFL history to make his postseason debut and the fifth-oldest player in the league this season.
“Thankful. Just you know — wife and my family moved around a lot. Been a lot. Been there for me,” McCown said with tears in his eyes. “And mom and dad, so to go out there and play in a playoff game, [it’s] special. I can’t thank them enough for their support. It was a heck of a ride. I left it all out there, I know that much.
“It’s different playing at 40. Your body talks to you a lot. I think more than anything — I’ll reflect on that later — but it was fun to be out there.”
McCown replaced Carson Wentz after the Birds’ starting QB suffered a head injury in the first quarter, and without Wentz, the Eagles’ magic ran out. The Eagles were eliminated from the playoffs by the Seattle Seahawks with a 17-9 loss at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday.
Wentz was injured on a helmet-to-helmet hit from Seahawks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney in the first quarter that went unpenalized. Wentz, too, was making his first career postseason appearance as the 27-year-old was injured for both the Super Bowl run and last season.
McCown completed 18 of 24 passes for 174 yards and no touchdowns. He was sacked six times and fumbled twice but didn’t turn the ball over. He picked up 23 yards on five carries. As has been the case in the past, the Eagles’ magic with backup QBs ran out.
The Birds couldn’t overcome the loss of Wentz, whose injury occurred simply because of a helmet-to-helmet hit, as they have so many other injuries this season.
Cameras caught a tearful McCown walking down the tunnel at the Linc.
The emotions carried over into his press conference.
“Man, I’ve had the time of my life. I told those guys in there, I’m so thankful. I’m so thankful that they called me,” McCown said. “And Alshon [Jeffery] and the guys who hit me up and coaxed to come out. Just I’ve chased this my whole career and have been in moments where we were five weeks ago, where you’re coming home from a plane ride from Miami and you feel like all is lost. And man, it’s a dark place.
“Then you’re talking, can we win all these games and get in. I’ve been in those moments a few times in my career and we don’t get it done and it goes the other way. Man, what an honor it was to be in that group and watch Doug [Pederson] lead this team, the veterans in this locker room lead this team, watch Carson play the way he did down the stretch. That’s special. More than anything solidifies all I thought in all those moments. If the collective, the belief of the group rise to a certain level we could run the table. And we did that and got in.
“But this year’s been nothing short of special for me. I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve learned so much from so many people. Just thankful to be a part of it. As far as the future goes we’ll see. I haven’t made these decisions yet. I have to get with my family and talk with them. Obviously, I’ve retired once. I know how to do that. So we’ll just see. I don’t know yet.”
The Eagles’ offseason begins Monday. McCown’s career may have ended in South Philly on Sunday night. But his emotional postgame remarks are a reminder of what makes sports so special.