Najee Goode’s childhood was probably not too different from your childhood.
“I was 4 years old and I knew the Eagles chant -- E-A-G-L-E-S, EAGLES!” Goode said. “I used to hear my dad do it all the time.”
The only difference is that Goode grew up in Ohio.
Goode, the Eagles’ newest linebacker, is the son of former Eagles tight end John Goode, who spent 1985 in Philly, playing in all 16 games in Marion Campbell’s final season as head coach.
As soon as the younger Goode plays a regular-season snap, he and his father will become the first father-son combination in franchise history.
“It’s pretty incredible, when you think about it,” John Goode said Tuesday from his home in Cleveland Heights. “For us both to play for the same pro team, who could have ever imagined that happening?”
Najee and John have a lot in common. Both were fifth-round draft picks, and both spent their first NFL season with another team and wound up with the Eagles for their second season.
John Goode was drafted by the Cards in the fifth round of the 1984 draft out of Youngstown State and spent his rookie year in St. Louis, catching three passes for 23 yards.
“That was a long time ago that my dad played -- I think they were still using plastic helmets,” Najee Goode said with a laugh. “He played offense. He was a pretty boy.”
John Goode projected to be a key tight end on the 1985 Cards until the Cards decided to try and turn a wide receiver into a tight end.
That was Jay Novacek.
So the Cards figured Goode was expendable and traded him to the Eagles before the 1985 season. He wore No. 87 here and played in 14 games, mainly on special teams.
“That was a great bunch of guys,” the senior Goode recalled. “We had a lot of leaders, a lot of tremendous personalities. Jaws, Spags, Garry Cobb, Greg Brown, Ray Ellis, Wes [Hopkins], Randall [Cunningham] … crazy Andre Waters, I loved that guy.
“Of course, that was Reggie [White’s]’s first year after he started out in the USFL, and he was just manhandling people.”
The 1985 Eagles were 6-5 before losing four straight, resulting in the firing of Campbell. He was replaced for the final game of the season by interim coach Fred Bruney, who was in turn replaced by Buddy Ryan.
That was the end of Goode’s career with the Eagles and in the NFL, but he’s never forgotten his brief stay here.
“I loved Philly,” he said. “Loved the area, got married in Cherry Hill, my oldest son was born there. His godfather is Keith Byars, who was just coming to the Eagles [in 1986], and I knew because we were both Ohio boys.
“I told Najee, Philly is the total opposite of Tampa Bay as far as fans, enthusiasm, expertise. The people there really know their football and have so much passion for the Eagles. Unlike Tampa, where football is just kind of something they do on Sundays and football kind of just comes and goes.
“The fans in Philly were great. Back then, we would park in the same lot as the fans, and they were always there waiting for us after games. They’d be eating with us after games, just hanging out in the parking lot.
“I told Najee, just be ready to give 110 percent -- which he’s always done -- and they’ll love you in Philly.”
The younger Goode was drafted by the Bucs last year out of West Virginia, where he played in a school-record 52 games -- starting 25 -- and piling up 22½ tackles for loss, eight sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
He played just three games for the Buccaneers last year, seeing action on just three plays on defense and 48 on special teams.
“It was a real frustrating year, getting to play just a few games,” Goode said. “But the coaches had a certain plan that they wanted to follow, so you just have to be patient and wait your turn. But it was frustrating because you want to be out there playing.
“But I just tried to use it as a learning experience and learn as much as I could. I thought I carried that over into the preseason and played really well, but they had a different plan.”
Goode, a 6-foot-1, 240-pound inside linebacker, was released by the Bucs on Saturday and awarded to the Eagles on waivers Sunday.
“I just want to contribute any way I can, whether it’s on special teams or on defense,” said Goode, an engineering major at WVU. “Wherever they put me, whatever they ask me to do, I just want to go out there and make plays.”
Numerous Eagles have had fathers or sons who played in the NFL (see box). Keith Adams, a starting linebaker on the 2004 Super Bowl defense, was the son of Julius Adams, who spent 17 years with the Patriots. Tim Hasselbeck, who was here in 2002, was the son of Don Hasselbeck, an NFL tight end from 1977 through 1985.
Jeff Kemp, one of the 1991 quarterbacks, was the son of long-time NFL quarterback Jack Kemp (who was also Bob Dole’s running mate on the 1996 Republican Presidential ticket). And most recently, Dan Klecko was the son of long-time Jets star Joe Klecko.
There have been several father-son combos on the same team, most recently the DeOssies with the Giants. Steve was with the Giants from 1989 through 1993, and his son, Zak, is entering his seventh year with the Giants.
“My dad, he loved it in Philadelphia,” Najee Goode said. “He said he really enjoyed his time here. He said the fans love them some football, that’s all anybody talks about. I’m just really proud to play where he played.”