Asante Samuel said that he expects to be greeted warmly when he returns to Lincoln Financial Field as a member of the Falcons on Sunday.
"They better cheer for me," Samuel said to reporters in Atlanta. "They're going to cheer for me or we're going to have a problem right there in Lincoln Financial [Field]. All you all fans, all I did for you all, you all better cheer for me. Deuce here. Got nothing but love for you all."
Samuel returns with the undefeated Falcons. It was pointed out to the cornerback during a four-minute interview the struggles the 3-3 Eagles have had on defense this season.
"It’s kind of hard when 22 ain't there," Samuel said, referring to his jersey number. "Twenty-two keep things going for you. You just to deal with it. You make you bed. You got to deal with it.”
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Samuel, of course, is referring to the Eagles' decision to trade him to Atlanta in April. The Eagles received only a seventh-round draft pick in return for the four-time Pro Bowler. Andy Reid said at the time of the deal that the Eagles made an effort to trade Samuel to a team of his choosing.
“Like I said in the beginning, it was a joint thing," Samuel said. "It was something we all had to agree on together. We had other choices that I was not going to pick. Atlanta was a place I wanted to come. They tried to not let me come to Atlanta, but we got it done."
Still, Samuel appears to harbor bitter feelings over the trade. When reports of Juan Castillo's firing surfaced last Tuesday, Samuel tweeted the following, interpreted by many to be about Reid:
"Sometimes you have to blame yourself. You can't try and always point the figure at someone else."
Samuel was asked about the tweet on Thursday.
“You all assumed that was about Andy," Samuel said. "I didn’t say this is for Andy. I just make a quote and then another quote and everybody said that was for Andy. You all did that."
Samuel, who played under Castillo for one season, was asked for his opinion of the firing.
"Juan’s my guy. Shout out to you, Juan," Samuel said. "He had the 12th defense in the league. Doing a good job as I could see. It’s just unfortunate he had to resign from his job or whatever."
Samuel, with typical bravado, took questions at his locker stall with his helmet on. He acknowledged that this was a big week and that Sunday's game was not just any game because Philadelphia "was like my home."
"It’ll be exciting, you know? They’ll be happy to see me," Samuel said of his teammates.
It remains to be seen if Michael Vick will be happy to see one of the NFL's top interception men. Samuel has 46 career interceptions, 23 coming while with the Eagles. He has one interception this season, one he took back 79 yards for a touchdown against the Raiders.
"I never really got to play against" Vick, Samuel said. "Every time I had to play against his team he was always hurt or something. I know he’s an explosive player. I know he’s an competitor, so it’s time to compete."