At 27, offensive tackle Nic Purcell is the Philadelphia Eagles’ oldest rookie. That alone would probably make for an interesting backstory.
But it gets more intriguing.
Purcell, who joined the Eagles as a tryout player in the spring after an eligibility snafu ended his collegiate career, is a New Zealand native and former rugby player who didn’t seriously take up football until two years ago.
Purcell told New Zealand media outlet stuff.co.nz that he’s been welcomed by the Eagles; he noted he was prepared for “a little more hazing.” However, Purcell noted that hazing “doesn’t really go on at the Eagles, so you just avoid the unnecessary stress.”
“The majority of senior players are really helpful just trying to help you transition … it’s a really good environment here,” Purcell told stuff.co.nz.
According to stuff.co.nz, Purcell came to the U.S. in 2011 to attend Golden West College in Huntington Beach, California, and he wasn’t originally planning to play football — a sport he had played in New Zealand — but a Golden West coach talked him into playing. He played two seasons for Golden West, but an attempt to play for Oregon — formerly led by new Eagles coach Chip Kelly — was unsuccessful, as the NCAA ruled him ineligible for playing in a pair of games for a team in New Zealand.
The question now is whether the 6-foot-6, 305-pound Purcell can show enough to stick with the Eagles in some capacity. The practice squad would seem more likely than the roster, considering his lack of football experience. However, he’s done well to make it this far; many tryout players never even get on an NFL roster.
Photo credit: PhiladelphiaEagles.com