Delsea Regional High School principal Paul Berardelli has a unique perspective on Sunday’s NFC championship game: He suited up for both the Eagles and the Vikings.
Berardelli, a star offensive lineman at Villanova University in the mid-1980s, was a member of the Eagles’ practice squad in 1989 and the Vikings’ practice squad in 1992.
In between, Berardelli played two seasons with the London Monarchs of the NFL Europe league.
A South Jersey resident since retiring from the game after his brief time with the Vikings, Berardelli is firm in his allegiance to the hometown team.
“I’m Eagles all the way,” Berardelli said. “My kids would bust on me if I wasn’t.”
A native of the Scranton, Pa., area, Berardelli became coach Andy Talley’s first all-American player as an offensive guard at Villanova. His No. 61 jersey has been retired by the Wildcats.
Berardelli joined the Eagles, who were coached by Buddy Ryan, as an undrafted free agent in the summer of 1989.
“That wasn’t training camp. That was war,” Berardelli said of workouts at West Chester University. “Two-a-days, hitting all the time. I’ve never been so exhausted.
“I remember lying on my back to stretch during warm-ups and thinking, ‘If I fell asleep right here, would they even notice?’ ”
That summer also was marked by the return of Hall of Fame defensive lineman Reggie White, who had been holding out in a contract dispute.
“I remember seeing Reggie walking down that hill and thinking, ‘How is this going to make my job any easier?’ ” he said.
Berardelli played two seasons in Europe, then caught on briefly with the Vikings under coach Jerry Burns. He moved to South Jersey, became a substitute teacher at Delsea, and worked his way through the education system to become principal in 2011.
Berardelli said he’s a die-hard Eagles fan.
“You get bitter at first,” Berardelli said of being released. “But you get over it. I’m an Eagles fan for sure.”
Of his analysis of the NFC title game between his old teams, Berardelli said, “I was pessimistic last week, low-keyed it, and I’m going to take the same approach this week. With [quarterback Carson] Wentz out, we’re playing with house money.”