The Big Game is here.
While there aren’t a ton of super interesting Philadelphia Eagles connections in Super Bowl LVI, there are still some worth noting. Here’s a look at the Birds’ ties to the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams.
DAMION SQUARE – DEFENSIVE TACKLE
I find myself fascinated by Square’s career. The Alabama alumnus made the Eagles’ roster as an undrafted rookie free agent signing in 2013. But he was waived the next summer and got claimed by the Kansas City Chiefs, where he also failed to stick.
Square’s third NFL team was a charm considering he carved out six seasons with the Chargers (two in San Diego, four in Los Angeles). He started 24 games and appeared in 81 during that span.
2021 was an active season for Square as he had offseason stints with the Cleveland Browns and New Orleans Saints before landing on the Chicago Bears’ practice squad. He only spent a week in the Windy City, though, since he was then signed to the Las Vegas Raiders’ roster. Then they cut him and brought him back on their practice squad.
Square was a member of the Raiders when they lost to the Bengals in the wild card round. He played 21 snaps in that game. Then he took the “if you can’t beat them, then join them” mantra literally and signed with Cincy’s practice squad ahead of the AFC Championship Game against the Chiefs. He played 15 snaps with the Bengals, making NFL history in the process. Square is the first player to EVER play with two different teams in the same posteason.
Unfortunately, Square was not elevated to the Bengals’ roster to play in Super Bowl LVI. It’d still be pretty nice for him to cap off an unlikely career with a ring to go with his $10,569,737 career earnings.
ELIJAH HOLYFIELD – RUNNING BACK
Holyfield originally signed with the Eagles late in 2019. He logged just five special teams snaps during the 2020 season, spending most of that year on the practice squad. Holyfield led the 2021 Eagles in preseason rushing yards before being waived. He was unemployed for about a month until the Bengals signed him to their practice squad in October. Holyfield did not log a snap with Cincy this year.
JOE BACHIE – LINEBACKER
The Eagles originally signed Bachie off the Saints’ practice squad prior to their game against New Orleans in 2020. The Birds curiously waived him in May 2021 and Cincy scooped him right back up with the No. 1 overall spot in the claiming order. A knee injury forced the Bengals to put Bachie on IR in December.
ZAC TAYLOR – HEAD COACH
A little bit of a stretch here in terms of Eagles interest but Zac is the older brother of former Philly passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Press Taylor. Press drew ire for his inability to help maximize Carson Wentz but 1) perhaps that wasn’t all his fault and 2) he still did make some important contributions to the Eagles’ Super Bowl success. He was a reason why the Philly Special was in the Birds’ playbook. Press is now the Jacksonville Jaguars’ offensive coordinator on Doug Pederson’s staff.
JAMES CASEY – TIGHT ENDS COACH
There was thought that Casey was going to have a big role in Chip Kelly’s offense after the Eagles signed him to a three-year, $14.6 million contract in 2013. But Casey was largely relegated to special teams duty, seeing just nine targets in two seasons with Philly. In fairness, he was stuck on the depth chart behind two all-time Eagles tight ends in Brent Celek and Zach Ertz. Casey joined the Bengals as their tight ends coach in 2019. He’s notably overseen a career year for 2015 fifth-round pick C.J. Uzomah.
COLT ANDERSON — ASSISTANT SPECIAL TEAMS COACH
Anderson was a special teams ace for the Eagles from 2010 through 2013. I once wrote a tribute to him as an “unsung hero.” I still believe he deserved to make at least one Pro Bowl. Anderson joined the Bengals in his current role back in 2020. For what it’s worth, Cincy has the ninth best special teams DVOA this year.
JORDAN KOVACS – DEFENSIVE QUALITY CONTROL COACH
Really scraping the bottom of the barrel here but Kovacs was on the Eagles’ practice squad for about a month in 2014.
BLAKE COUNTESS – SAFETY
The Eagles selected Countess with a sixth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. He signed with the Rams after being waived by the Birds following his first NFL training camp. Countess stuck in LA until the Rams waived him in May 2018. The Eagles claimed him and it looked like he had a chance to make Philly’s roster before he got hurt that summer. Countess was reunited with Joe Douglas on the Jets for a bit before he had a third stint with Philly late in December 2020. The Eagles brought Countess back for a FOURTH stint in August 2021 but he was later waived. After a cup of coffee with the Baltimore Ravens in December 2021, Countess signed with the Rams’ practice squad in January 2022. The Rams elevated him to the roster for the Super Bowl so he’ll presumably be contributing on special teams in the big game.
As if you needed another reason to root for the Bengals over the Rams, there are clearly more connections on Cincy’s side. Though hardly meaningful ones.