Thank you, Zach Ertz
Zach Ertz is a Philadelphia Eagles fan favorite, and he potentially played his last game on Sunday night against the Washington Football Team. Anyone who caught his post-game presser, where he was visibly brought to tears, felt the reality of the situation. Ertz is under contract for one more season, but negotiations for an extension past 2021 failed to gain traction. He's probably not in Philadelphia by the time next season kicks off.
The departure of Ertz will hurt all of us, but these next few paragraphs won't salt that wound. Instead, they'll remind you of all the good Ertz has done for this city and organization, both on and off the field. His eight seasons with the franchise were arguably the best a tight end has ever given in green.
It would be a disservice to mention just one of Ertz's achievements from the great 2017 season. He caught a career-high eight touchdowns in 14 games, the main catalyst for his first career Pro Bowl nomination (of three overall). He did not suit up for that game because the Eagles made the Super Bowl, a game in which Ertz more than lived up to the billing. In perhaps his greatest accomplishment as a player, he caught the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter of that game, putting the Eagles up 38-33. The rest is history. The dive he makes towards the end zone is now pictured and framed in living rooms and basements across the city.
His encore was even better. The year after the Super Bowl win, he broke the single-season record for most receptions by a tight end in NFL history (116), assuring fans everywhere that he was not done contributing at a high level. The record of 110 receptions was previously held by Jason Witten, a career Dallas Cowboy, making the accomplishment that much sweeter. Ertz is one of the most productive tight ends in NFL history: 594 catches, 6,438 receiving yards and 38 touchdowns in eight seasons as an Eagle across 124 regular season and playoff games.
Ertz is more than a great athlete though; he's an amazing person too. Zach and his wife Julie, the renowned U.S. Women's National Soccer Team star, started the Ertz Family Foundation and do a lot for the community through what Zach and his teammates do on the field. They gave out meals for every Eagles touchdown these past few years, providing the underprivileged youth of Philadelphia with opportunities they wouldn't have otherwise. The Ertz’s also posed for ESPN's Body Issue back in 2017, a section of ESPN Magazine where athletes pose for pictures naked to encourage people be comfortable with their own body types. Zach and Julie restore hope into communities that need it most, and it is more inspiring than anything they could ever do on the field.
The next organization that has the pleasure of welcoming them should be forever gracious.
Thank you, Zach Ertz.