The word pressure is defined as, “the feeling of stressful urgency caused by the necessity of doing or achieving something, especially with limited time.”
In the NFL, perception and stigmas are everything. It’s known as a copycat league for a reason. We’ve seen countless examples of narratives attached to players and those narratives being impossible to break away from for those players.
Those perceptions and narratives present adversity. Adversity that can either be conquered or succumbed to.
The Philadelphia Eagles 2021 offseason was filled with speculation. Would they draft a quarterback, would they trade for one of the league’s disgruntled quarterbacks, or were they waiting to see the outcome of a legal situation involving a specific quarterback?
But as things stand today with the Eagles set to kickoff their season in Atlanta against the Falcons tomorrow afternoon at 1pm, one thing is clear: 2021 will be the Jalen Hurts show.
And for Hurts, with that comes a mountain of pressure. The Eagles traded former QB Carson Wentz and have equipped themselves with a treasure chest of draft picks for next April’s draft.
If Hurts doesn’t produce, those draft picks will be used to acquire a quarterback who Howie Roseman and co. believe can.
But facing pressure is nothing new for him.
“Rent is due everyday,” has been a moniker Hurts has preached all off-season and when you look at his career up to this point, it rings true.
Hurts story has been one of staring in the face of adversity and overcoming it.
His college career consisted of:
- Being the first true freshman to start at quarterback for the University of Alabama in 32 years and winning SEC offensive player of the year
- Being benched for Tua Tagovailoa in the second half of the national championship
- Staying at the school where he was benched
- Leading Alabama to a win in the SEC championship after Tagovailoa was injured the very next season
- Playing with 4 different offensive coordinators across the 2 Universities he played at.
- Transferring to the University of Oklahoma for his senior season in which he amassed 5,149 total yards and 52 touchdowns in one season as well as a receiving touchdown and finished 2nd in the Heisman voting.
Hurts college adversity has helped prepare him for the current journey he’s on: a single season to prove he can be the Eagles franchise QB.
The adversity and mountains he’s had to climb thus far in his football career have prepared him for the challenge he is about to embark upon.
The task at hand is a major one and on the outside it may seem daunting, but for Hurts, the stoic like composure he possesses won’t allow him to be shaken.
“When you climb this mountain, it doesn’t happen overnight,” said Hurts in an August press conference.
“You have to be patient with that, but you have to put the time in. You have to remain diligent with your work, put maximum effort in every day. The biggest thing about this football thing, is one percent better every day. Invest in yourself and to the team every day and going out there and playing hard.”
The noise that surrounded the Eagles quarterback position this offseason was deafening at times but Hurts never let it affect him. He did what he’s always done, put his head down and work.
“I’m above it all. Control what I can. I’m here. That’s what I’m doing, going out there to be the quarterback of this team,” Hurts said after a July training camp practice.
His ability as a leader and his work ethic have been two of the most talked about qualities Hurts possesses.
“He works his a** off, that’s really what it is,” T Lane Johnson told reporters.
“His leadership is tremendous,” Miles Sanders said of Hurts.
“We all know in the locker room, the staff, we all know what he’s going to do. I don’t think everybody else is giving him the respect that he needs,” Greg Ward said.
The work Hurts has put in this offseason on his game in preparation for the 2021 season hasn’t gone unnoticed. Hurts was recently voted a team captain by his teammates after just starting 4 games last season.
“It exemplifies more than that. It exemplifies the hard work that goes into it,” Hurts said on the honor.
Opportunity is knocking for Hurts. In what is essentially a one year trial run for him, it’s up to him to prove it or the draft capital the Eagles have accured over the 2021 offseason will come into play.
The NFL chews up and spits out players on a yearly basis. Narratives that surround players once they reach the highest level of football are nearly impossible to shake. Hurts has seen his fair share of criticism but he’s always found a way to prove the doubters wrong. Time will tell if he can do the same this time around.
As the Eagles prepare to kickoff their 2021 campaign, Hurts seems primed to take the reins and breathe life into an organization that has fallen far from where it was just 3 years ago. In a year where seemingly everything is on the line for Jalen Hurts, one thing is clear: he’s built for it.
“Whatever endeavor you try to chase, whatever road you’re on, whatever bridge you have to cross, there’s going to be perseverance you have to see through,” Hurts said on the path to greatness via the Eagles Insider Podcast with Dave Spadaro.
“I’ve been prepared through many different trials and different challenges along the way. I don’t think there’s anything that can hold me back from that.”
Cover Image Credit: Andy Lewis / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images