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Football jerseys have names on their backs. Lockers have name plates on top. Equipment and gear are generally identified by the name of the athlete that wears them.
At Eagles practice, name recognition goes beyond the uniform and locker room. It extends to post-practices beverages. One of the newest -- and perhaps strangest -- implementations at the NovaCare Complex under new head coach Chip Kelly are baskets of fruit and plastic cups containing frozen smoothies specifically blended for each individual player that sit on a row of tables bridging the practice fields and locker room.
On each cup, the name of the player to whom the smoothie belongs is scrawled in marker, a method of making sure that every Eagle has his own personalized, post-practice refreshment.
“They’ve got other snacks,” tight end Brent Celek said. “They’ve got a lot of healthy things where once you’re done working out, you need to replenish your body, otherwise it’s just going to keep breaking down. I like it.”
But why does each player have his own specific smoothie? It’s all part of the diet and nutrition regimen Kelly implemented into the team’s conditioning program. Kelly is big on science and physiology and how they can impact his coaching and his players’ maximizing their potentials.
Kelly has also recommended to his players that they get between 10 to 12 hours of sleep every night, and many of his practice habits are influenced by scientific research.
Several players, including Celek and quarterback Michael Vick, were spotted wearing heart monitors after practice Wednesday, but both Celek and Vick downplayed the significance of the monitors and refused to go into detail about why they were introduced into practice.
Joking about the wide-ranging scope of questions from reporters regarding Kelly’s unconventional techniques, Celek said, “You guys are real intrigued right now.”
Yeah, well, it’s safe to say several reporters -- and several players -- have never seen custom-made smoothies for 70-plus football players.
Under coach Andy Reid, the Eagles often replenished after practice with drinks that resembled Slurpees from 7-Eleven, but those beverages came from a machine and weren’t earmarked for specific individuals.
In this case, each player was allowed to choose his smoothie flavor, which explained the array of different-colored drinks awaiting the Eagles as they filtered off the grass fields. Celek’s is a combination of pineapple, coconut and banana.
“Well, he always says that he’s going to work us [in practice], and he does work us when we’re out there,” Celek said. “But he also takes care of us. When we need rest, he gives us rest. When we need nutrition, he gives us, you know, food.
“From that standpoint, he’s given us everything we need to succeed and he takes care of all those aspects. There’s no complaining. You can’t be like, ‘Well, I’m tired. I’m not getting enough rest.’ He thinks about all that stuff.”