Connor Barwin rides his bicycle up 20th Street when he returns from the Eagles' South Philadelphia practice facility to his home near Rittenhouse Square. He passes Ralph Brooks Park at 20th and Tasker Streets, where he often sees children playing basketball on only half of the court.
An Eagles linebacker who was once a college basketball player and is the son of a city manager, Barwin maintains a sense of civic pride and duty. He wanted to help revitalize the park. Barwin will provide the final nudge with the proceeds from a June 20 concert at Union Transfer on Spring Garden Street that the linebacker organized.
Since Barwin signed with the Eagles in March 2013, he has been committed to making Philadelphia home. A Detroit-area native who went to the University of Cincinnati and started his career in Houston, Barwin is into the local music scene - the headlining act for the concert is Philadelphia's Kurt Vile - and he has become a popular figure in the locker room and among fans.
"I live in Philadelphia now: This is where I stay year-round, this is the team I play for," said Barwin, 27. "If you want to make the biggest impact, I think I need to do it in Philly, I need to use the Eagles and my teammates, my friendship with the musicians in Philly, and work with the community to make the biggest impact."
Barwin expects at least a dozen Eagles to attend the event, which will raise between $30,000 and $40,000. That will be matched by Barwin's foundation and go toward a new basketball court, a rain garden, an urban farm, and a new mural for the park.
It will be another Philly evening in what has been a busy offseason for Barwin, who will be with the Eagles Tuesday when they begin three weeks of organized team activities at the NovaCare Complex.
He took a Spanish class at Temple, which brought him closer to graduating from Cincinnati. Barwin joined night-schoolers and college students, surely the only person with five NFL sacks last season learning introductory Spanish at the Center City campus.
Barwin spent time at SEPTA's control center. A frequent rider of public transportation who often wears a SEPTA shirt during interviews, Barwin marveled at the number of security cameras on buses, trains, and platforms.
"I don't think I ever did anything inappropriate, but I know now I will never, ever considerate it because they have eyes watching everything you do," Barwin said.
Barwin went on a goodwill mission to Haiti and installed solar panels atop an orphanage. He vacationed on St. Barts; attended the music festival Coachella in California; went to the South by Southwest conference and festival in Austin, Texas; hunted and fished in Tennessee; and met Mike Tyson after Tyson's live performance in Atlantic City. Barwin even fit in a trip to Capitol Hill to lobby for youth-fitness initiatives.
"It wasn't like I was selling them on anything that was too controversial," Barwin said. "It wasn't that hard. But you try to get them on your side."
He wrote an article for the MMQB, a Sports Illustrated football website; visited the New York offices of Google and the popular sports website Deadspin; and caught Flyers fever during the playoffs. And he was recently spotted in Sea Isle City.
Barwin said one of the advantages of playing professional football is the free time in the offseason. Barwin has a girlfriend and no children, so he spends most of his free time as he chooses.
"It's the offseason; my weekends aren't too full," Barwin said. "I think when I get invited to a lot of things, I usually say yes. All those things that happened are people that invited me, and usually good things happen."
After the concert and a conference later that month, Barwin said July will become "all football." He will spend two weeks with his trainer in Houston and two weeks working with former Texans teammate Brian Cushing in New Jersey.
Barwin has kept busy during the offseason in the past, but social media and his profile in Philadelphia have enhanced his popularity.
"I know I'm a normal person," Barwin said, "so I'm out in Philadelphia, going to dinner, walking around, all the normal things."
Tuesday-Thursday: Organized team activities
June 2-3, 5: Organized team activities
June 9-12: Organized team activities
June 17-19: Mandatory minicamp