Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Camp Confidential: A day at Eagles Training Camp

Lehigh University is a popular summertime spot for fans looking to get acquainted with the Eagles at training camp. ( Yong Kim / Staff Photographer )

Training camp is the NFL's great leveler. The players arrive from all over, with varying pedigrees and expectations and number of zeroes on their paychecks. But when the sun is high in the August sky and the hitting is underway, it feels the same for all of them. They talk of brotherhood in this sport, of fraternity. Some of that is the product of the myth-makers, but some of it is true, and training camp is where it is born: in the communal living, in the relative isolation, in the shared experience of physical torture.

That brotherhood is why Eagles coach Andy Reid came back to work at Lehigh University the day after he buried his son, Garrett. What seems unnaturally quick to people on the outside is much more understandable to people who have watched the man over the years, and who have witnessed the rituals of an NFL summer.

Because this is what they do. It is part of what players always end up talking about in their graying reminiscences: the great wins, the outlandish characters they played with - and the hell they collectively survived in the summertime. The two-a-day practice schedule is an NFL player's initiation. To miss it is to miss the context of every experience that follows.

Fans are permitted to view some of it from a grandstand, but the practices are only part of the day, a public sliver of the operation. Dozens of people, many working out of sight, choreograph every minute of the training camp experience - for the players, for the coaches and for the people who come to watch.

Some teams have decided that it isn't worth the bother anymore to pack up and head to a college campus. Instead, they work at home; they put their players in a hotel; and they have their two-a-days without the fans cheering every long completion and heckling every false start.

But some teams and some coaches still cherish the old ways. Andy Reid is one of those coaches - especially now, it seems. And to experience an Eagles training camp is to get a step closer to understanding why.

That's what SportsWeek has tried to do with the story that follows - to pull back the curtain and give a true sense of what it takes for the Eagles to put on what has become a rite of summer.

Here is a look at some numbers associated with Eagles Training Camp:

BY THE NUMBERS

  60 - Years the Cort Lower U.C. building has been in operation

264 - Maximum capacity of the Cort dining area

  62 - Number of total staff members during training camp

200 - Approximate number of players and staff that utilize the Cort

450 - Pounds of filet (200) and lobster (250) eaten in one surf and turf dinner

  70 - Pounds of eggs cooked for one breakfast

  50 - Pounds of breakfast meat cooked each morning (30 bacon, 20 sausage)

  30 - Pounds of brown rice and pasta (uncooked) consumed in one day

120 - Pounds of chicken breast, the most popular dish, served each day

200 - Pounds of crabs legs, all steamed by the same person, cooked each year on crab night

Home
Intro
Video
Stats
Timeline

By Ed Barkowitz, Chuck Darrow, Rich Hofmann Jr., Alex Lee, Matt Mullin and Robert Strauss.

3 a.m. Well before the sun comes up, the lights turn on inside Lehigh University's main dining hall, at the University Center on the school's Packer Campus (Lehigh has three separate but contiguous campuses), a 3 mile drive from the school's athletic complex-the Goodman campus-where the Eagles will actually hold practice.

The first workers to arrive are pastry chefs, who prepare the desserts to will be served throughout the school's dining facilities.

Unlike most colleges, Lehigh has a full bakery that prepares fresh baked goods to be served in the dining hall and for the catering staff for special events.

4:30 a.m. The kitchen staff makes the first of many trips up to the Sayre Park Village, the student residential complex that houses the Eagles coaches for the duration of training camp, to deliver a continental breakfast.

Unlike the players and the rest of the staff, the coaches eat most of their meals in the common area at Sayre.

5 a.m. The first batch of cooks open the kitchen, and begin setting up for breakfast while the wait staff prepares the dining hall for the players' arrival.

Not only do they cook breakfast, but they also begin getting lunch ready.

In order get everything done in time, they have to stay at least a meal ahead, says Executive Chef David Casey.

"Between the players and the rest of the staff, it's about 200 people," says Casey, "but they eat as much as almost 500 students."

5:45 a.m. The day starts at dawn for Eagles Marketing Manager Poorya Nayerahmadi and his 25 interns, who meet in a snack-and-equipment storage room in Rauch Field House, just south of where the Eagles practice on Lehigh's Goodman campus.

There are copies of the schedule for the day taped to the walls, but by week two, everyone pretty much knows the drill.

Each intern - most of whom are still in college - is dressed similarly, whether they're male and female: grey T-shirts with the angry-eagle logo, black shorts and a two-way radio.

Nayerahmadi wears the same white T-shirt and white shorts that many of the Eagles front-office staff and assistant coaches wear at camp.

His radio is always clipped to the inside of his shirt, so he often looks like he is talking into some inner-pocket.

He still carries a cell phone for communications not with his intern cadre.

"I try to keep emails for the evening, but there are just times I may have to call back to Philly for something," he said.

"I get up at 5 a.m. I guess most of my kids do, too. It's a long day, but we have to be ready when people show up."

6 a.m. The doors to the dining hall open, and the Eagles ball boys are first to arrive.

The two cooks are busy in the kitchen, while the wait staff continually refills the water pitchers on every table and makes sure the dining area stays clean.

During the school year, the Cort is only open during the week, closing after lunch on Fridays.

But when the Eagles are in town, it is open for three meals a day, seven days of the week.

This presents a challenge for Cheryl Ann Lawrence, who has been the Director of Dining Services at Lehigh for 11 years.

"We definitely have to make some adjustments," she says.

"We borrow a few workers, about six or seven, from the other dining areas on campus, but it can still be tricky."

6:15 a.m. Syreeta Bradley, the Eagles Associate Pro Shop Manager, arrives at the Goodman campus, where the Eagles actually hold their practices.

With help from her team of interns, Bradley and her group will stock the Eagles Pro Shop-the huge merchandise tent that each training camp visitor has to pass through before they make it to the fields-and wait on customers looking to purchase everything from Eagles jerseys to Eagles sun block.

The store gets a rush of fans before and after both practices, but more so in the afternoons, now that Head Coach Andy Reid has switched the team's "hitting sessions" to that time.

"Everyone is friendly," she says.

"They're just excited to be here because not everyone can afford to buy season tickets or have an opportunity to go to games.

So this is like their game day for them, a day they can get up close and personal with the team."

Because of the heat during camp, the tent is equipped with 6 high powered fans designed to cool things off; they can only do so much.

"It is actually a little bit warmer in here because we don't get that outside breeze.

If there is a breeze blowing outside, we don't get it in here.

Thankfully, we don't have the sun factor," Bradley said.

6:15 a.m. After the initial meeting of Poorya Nayerahmadi's marketing team, intern Justin Mitchell heads off the Play 60 playground area, which is part of an NFL initiative encouraging kids to be active for 60 minutes a day.

Each day, the playground equipment-which includes a big inflatable slide-has to be put up and broken down, and it takes about seven interns to get it right.

Mitchell looks like he could play cornerback - he's tall and trim - but he never played football at either North Penn High or Penn State, where he graduated in the spring with a management degree.

He's now in his second year as a training-camp intern, and unlike most of the others at camp, his stint with the Eagles won't end when the team comes back to the NovaCare complex.

Nayerahmadi has asked him to stay on as an intern in Philadelphia for the rest of the season.

"Working for the Eagles is really my big dream," he said.

6:30 a.m. With the Eagles first on-field activity of the day-the morning walkthrough-just under two hours away, preparations are being made both inside Cundey (where the Eagles' locker rooms for the duration of camp are located) and outside, on the three fields the team utilizes for practice.

Greg Delimitros, in his first year as head equipment manager (after spending eight as an assistant), arrives along with his staff of three.

They open the locker room and prepare to help players with any equipment issues before practice.

"Everything [important] is pretty much in their lockers from the night before so it will mostly be minor stuff like wristbands, QB towels, and socks," says Delimitros.

In the mornings the staff also handles requests for any alterations to heavier equipment-helmets and pads-that the players will need later in the day.

Outside, assistant turf manager Mike Watson and grounds crew intern Eddie Harbaugh are preparing the practice fields, which involves taking off the dew from the night before and filling in divots from the previous afternoon's practice.

They also perform precautionary measures such as checking the turf for moisture levels and looking for signs of any disease.

6:30 a.m. Kitchen staffers head to Sayre to deliver fresh coffee and make sure that there is plenty of food for the coaching staff.

7:00 a.m. No one can accuse Eagles fans for not being faithful, and Nayerahmadi likes to reward that faithfulness with service, and he opens the Goodman campus parking lots for the early-comers waiting to see the team's morning walk-through.

"If you don't rush them in and out, they are more orderly and relaxed, which is what we want," he says.

7:15 a.m. As the grounds crew is finishing preparing the fields for the walk through, Greg Delimitros leaves Cundey to walks the three practice fields, which lie just south of the building.

He does this to help decide which fields are going to be used for the day's practices, which will depend on how the grass feels after the previous night's weather.

By now, the sixteen ball boys who report to Delimitros have also made it to Cundey from the dorms.

They're all dressed in their NFL mandated uniforms: white Nike t-shirts and royal blue shorts.

In a short meeting, Delimitros runs through where all of the field equipment-from pads to play-clocks-need to go, and quickly dispatches the ball boys get the fields ready.

7:20 a.m. Players begin arriving for breakfast.

While they make up less than half of the diners served during mealtime, the players account for a majority of the food intake.

On average, Executive Chef David Casey and his staff will prepare 70 pounds of eggs, 30 pounds of bacon, and 20 pounds of sausage for a single breakfast.

8:15 a.m. Morning walkthrough practice begins.

9:30 a.m. Breakfast comes to a close at the Cort, but the staff doesn't get much of a break.

The dining area is cleaned, the dishes are washed, and the cooks turn their focus to lunch.

The final touches also need to be put on the coaches' lunch, to be delivered to Sayre after the walk-through is over.

10:00 a.m. Once morning practice is over, the playground has to be broken down.

"You never know what can walk away," said Nayerahmadi.

"But really, it is more about weather.

Don't want a sudden storm to ruin everything."

By 11, Justin Mitchell and the others intern have headed up to the Packer campus to get lunch.

"The food isn't bad, but it's not casual," he said.

"You basically have a half-hour or so to eat before we have to be back to get ready for the afternoon."

11:30 a.m. The grounds crew schedule is fairly simple: When the team is on the field, they rest.

When the team is somewhere else, they work.

With the fields now completely deserted, Watson and Harbaugh prepare the field for the afternoon practice.

On this day, the grounds crew has an additional task: repainting the field lines.

Watson, who favors a floppy hat reminiscent of the one donned by Bill Murray in Caddyshack, says the crew tries to paint the lines once every five days.

For the job, his two-man crew is helped by three employees contracted by Lehigh.

Watson and Harbaugh handle the most difficult tasks-painting the numbers and hash mark-while the other members of the team paint the lines and mow the grass, which is done every day.

11:45 a.m. Nayerahmadi holds another quick meeting with his interns just before lunch to discuss VIPs observing the afternoon practice session.

Today, there will be a large group from Verizon, in addition to player relatives, front-office special guests and some high-school football players who are getting to meet some Eagles.

Noon The players begin to arrive for lunch.

Unlike the rest of the Eagles staff, the players don't get to eat whatever they please.

Each food item is accompanied by a colored sticker - red for high fat, yellow for medium, and green for low.

Players are instructed by their coaches which colors they are allowed to eat.

"We've noticed that they are especially conscience about diets this season," says chef Casey.

"For the first time, they requested that we cook whole-grain pasta and brown rice."

Eating health, however, doesn't mean the players eat less.

On any given day, the cooks at the Cort will prepare 30 pounds of pasta and 30 pounds of brown rice.

That's nothing compared to the most popular item on the menu: grilled chicken.

Each day, the kitchen goes through about 120 pounds of the stuff.

12:09 p.m. Fans start to queue up just after noon for the second practice of the day.

Right now, a diverse group 100 or so people are standing in a single-file line along the walking path that leads to the practice fields.

All are waiting for the 1 p.m. signal from security personnel that will let them in.

Near the head of the line, seated in low-slung beach chairs, are Jennifer Anderson of Austin, Tex., and her son, Nicholas, 14.

On Jennifer's lap rests a handmade sign depicting the states of Texas and Pennsylvania, with an arcing arrow connecting the two.

"1700 miles B/C I (HEART) MY" with and Eagles' logo under the "MY."

"I was born and bred an Eagles fan," says Anderson, a Bucks County native.

She and Nicholas arrived at 7:45 a.m. because, she says, "I didn't want to miss anything. I wanted to get a feel for the events."

Then there's Tim Coffin.

Even in this sea of dark green, Coffin is easy to spot.

He's the one in green shorts and Eagles T-shirt topped by a vest covered with almost 400 Eagles-related pins.

Coffin, who lives in Newark, Del., has been collecting the pins since the 1960s; his oldest is the one in the shape of a pennant from the 1940s, and most bear the Eagles' name and/or logo (e.g. Snoopy from "Peanuts" clad in a Birds' uniform).

"It's fun to wear and to let other people see the pins," explains Coffin, who calls himself "The Eagles Pin Man."

12:30 p.m. Bradley and her staff are making their final preparations before fans are let in for the afternoon practice.

It's the calm before the storm.

A typical day will see more than 5,000 people come through the tent.

"Just about everyone buys something," Bradley says.

"Even if it small, they want to come back with something from Eagles training camp, especially the first-timers."

Eagles 2012 training camp shirts are a top seller.

The new NFL jerseys-now made by Nike-are also a hot commodity (not surprisingly, the jerseys of Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson are the top selling ones).

But the reach of the merchandise tent goes far beyond traditional fan gear.

"We have everything from glasses to an Eagles rubber ducky.

Just about anything you think a fan would want, we provide," Bradley said.

The rubber ducky, it turns out, is a popular item.

Because wide receivers are scheduled to sign autographs after the afternoon practice, the morning session saw a run on items that could be signed-or used to sign.

"Oddly enough, our four top sellers were footballs, yearbooks and black and silver Sharpies for the morning session," Bradley says.

12:39 p.m. Holly Hubbard, the Eagles' community affairs coordinator, and her assistant, Samantha Allgood, begin distributing numbered tickets to those waiting in line to enter the practice facilities.

Of the several thousand tickets they will hand out, 225 will provide the recipient-via random drawing-the chance to get an autograph after practice from a group of players.

Today, it's the wide receivers-a group that includes superstar DeSean Jackson.

12:55 p.m. The ball boys emerge from the Varsity House to begin setting up the fields for the afternoon practice, retrieving play clocks, blocking pads and footballs from the large white trailer sitting on the road in front of the building.

1:00 p.m. Security staffers begin waving the crowd onto the path that leads to the Pro Shop-and the practice fields.

As each person files past and heads up the path toward the practice fields, Lehigh University staffer Meghan Clearie clicks off a handheld counter so that team officials will know the day's attendance.

Poorya Nayerahmadi stations himself at the end of the path created to funnels fans from the welcome tent to the merchandise and concession area just off the practice fields.

This year, Nayerahmadi thought it would be good to add a few tidbits of history and player information as the fans file in.

Nearer the parking lot are printed screens, about 10 feet high, with old photos of past Eagles: Pete Retzlaff, Tommy McDonald, Wilbert Montgomery.

Fences along the path to the practice fields are lined with similar screens that also feature stats and paeans to current Eagles, from Michael Vick to Nnamdi Asomugha to the cadre of wide receivers.

There are also larger-than-life cutouts of players in action strategically stationed around the facility.

Nayerahmadi looks over at a chubby pre-teen boy with a Mohawk posing in front of the Jackson cut-out.

"I deal with a lot of vendors," said Nayerahmadi.

"There is the fence guy and the cutout guy and screen vendor and the guy who does the autograph tickets and the water vendor and, well, it's a lot."

Nayerahmadi was not much of an athlete at Lower Moreland High School or Penn State, where he got his degree in advertising and psychology in 2005.

"It was only afterwards that I decided I wanted to be in the sports business," he said.

He first went to work for Eagles announcer Merrill Reese at his Bucks County radio station.

Figuring he needed some business background, he went back to Temple University and got a Sports Management degree, then worked a bit for Temple sports, the DC United soccer team and the Camden Riversharks, before coming to the Eagles in 2010.

"I do a lot of stuff year-round, but I really like being the boss of operations at camp," he said.

"I get to make a lot of decisions.

I mean, camp is really Coach's [Andy Reid].

You do what he says.

But after that, we want to add things for the fans and make it all run just so."

1:01 p.m. Eagles fan Gail Guerrero strolls up the walkway into Eagles training camp.

She is pleasantly surprised by some of the new additions to the facility - particularly the banners that line the walkway fence featuring images of old players and recaps of Eagles history.

"I think this is the first year they've done that," she says, stopping to get her picture taken in front of an image of Brian Dawkins holding the NFC Championship trophy.

Guerrero, from nearby Center Valley, PA, claims to have been to every training camp practice for the last 17 years, something she tends to share with anyone who will listen.

She's hard to miss.

She sports a green baseball cap with a life-size, mechanical winged bird on top that she says she found on the Internet.

"I'm Birdwoman of training camp," she says upon an introduction.

"I even have a customized t-shirt at home that says Birdwoman with double zero.

Andy Reid knows me."

1:25 p.m. Greg Delimitros walks out of Varsity House to check the field and talk to his assistant, Matt Toney, who is also known as "the horn guy."

Toney is basically runs practice from a timing standpoint.

This is a job Delimitros knows well, having held the responsibility for eight years.

"You're Coach Reid's right hand man at practice, keeping track of the time, and also telling every coach where their stations are going to be," says Delimitros.

1:30 p.m. The tent is now mobbed with people. Eagles intern Tanner Barbon mans one of the many cashier stations, ringing up items and answering questions. Barbon, a 20-year-old marketing major at Temple, is just happy to have anything to do with the Eagles. "They're my favorite team," he says. "My dream is to work for this organization." Barbon mans the women's apparel section of the tent, a job he chose after his first choice—the hat section—was assigned to another intern. "You see a lot of people over here…and I like to interact with them," he says. Barbon is usually the first to request a picture with anyone he recognizes that walks into the tent. Yesterday it was Merrill Reese. Today is it a pair of Eagles cheerleaders. Once at his station, though, Barbon is all business. "Just being with the organization, having that title and that symbol on your chest, it's empowering a little bit - it feels good."

2 p.m. Dave Spadaro takes a lot of ribbing from the WIP morning crew when he comes on the air for his unabashed pro-Eagles viewpoints, but he is the chief cook-and-helmet-washer of the Eagles Webcast, "Eagles Live!", which broadcasts for three hours each afternoon during training camp, from a makeshift "studio" just off training field 3.

The show is somewhat free-form, but includes interviews of players and coaches done earlier in the day, highlights from the previous day's practice, and live shots of fans and coaches on the sidelines. There are also phone calls from really, really loyal fans. "We get them from Alaska, you wouldn't believe it," said Spadaro. As Spadaro sets up, he looks behind him on the fringe of the field at a teenager in a uniform shirt looking in.

"Hey, how are you doing?" he says. "What's your name?"

"I'm Gian from Yardley."

"GIAN FROM YARDLEY?" says Spadaro, who seems to hardly be able to contain himself. "Hey, guys, this is Gian from Yardley. Can you believe it?"

Gian Illiano, in fact, is one of "Eagles Live's!" premiere callers. The 16-year-old sophomore at Pennsbury High School would love to work for the Eagles one day, and he is blushing at Spadaro's recognition. Spadaro invites him up to the anchor desk, has him put on earphones and, when the show starts, has him interact with callers. It may only be the Webcast from training camp, but from the look on Illano's face, it might as well be the finals of "American Idol."

2:09 p.m Marketing Intern Bob Sharpe steers a four-seated golf cart toward an expansive parking lot where he and community affairs coordinator Holly Hubbard will pick up Army Sgt. Mike Thomas. In April 2010, Thomas, 36, was injured by a roadside bomb while serving in Iraq. He subsequently endured a 20-day coma and four brain surgeries, as well as extensive plastic surgery.

Though he hails from Fredericksburg Va., Thomas is a lifelong Eagles fan. After his plight was made known to Eagles officials, Head Coach Andy Reid sent him a letter, which Thomas credits for being a motivating factor in his recovery. Today, Thomas will not only get to meet Reid—he's scheduled to go on WIP-FM (94.1) with the coach to talk with the station's afternoon hosts, Glenn Macnow and Anthony Gargano.

Sharpe and Hubbard located Thomas in the parking lot. He's wearing an Eagles muscle shirt that exposes two prominent tattoos, one of an Eagle flying out of Veterans Stadium, the other depicting former defensive back Brian Dawkins. Thomas climbs into the back seat for the short ride to the WIP broadcast tent, located just outside the Varsity House. Once seated, Thomas pulls out Reid's letter, now framed, from a bag. During the ride, Thomas, whose has two large horseshoe-shaped scars on his head that are easily visible through his buzz-cut hair, says that half of his skull is now made of plastic.

The cart pulls up to the radio site; Reid is already there. The two men are introduced, then Thomas says hello to the hosts. Macnow shakes Thomas' hand, but Gargano insists on wrapping the soldier in a bear hug. A few minutes later, the interview begins with Reid telling the radio audience that Thomas "looks Hollywood beautiful. He is looking good." Thomas responds by explaining how important Reid's letter was to him while he was rehabilitating.

2:19 p.m. Former Eagles offensive lineman Brian Baldinger, now a television analyst, is having an animated discussion with offensive line coach Howard Mudd on some of the techniques Mudd teaches. The two of them are whacking a tackling dummy while making their points. Baldy looks like he wants to put the pads on again. A minute later, the ball boys walk onto the fields slightly ahead of the players for practice, talk with assistant equipment manager Matt Toney and scatter to various locations.

2:44 p.m. A roar of applause emanates from the stands as the team appears. Video Director Mike Dougherty ascends in his cherry picker in order to shoot some drills for running backs coach Ted Williams. Dougherty points out that Williams and Juan Castillo (each of whom have been with the Eagles for 18 years) are the longest-serving assistant coaches in team history. Doc, as everyone calls Dougherty, has been with the Eagles for 38 years, so he knows these kind of things.

2:45 p.m. A pair of fans pull the tags off their freshly purchased McCoy jerseys and wiggle into them. They step away each other enough for an evaluative glance, and nod approvingly of their new threads. It's a scene that is replicated countless times throughout the day in the tent. "You will see people buy jerseys and put them right on all the time," Syreeta Bradley says. "It may be 90 degrees out there, but they want their jersey on. They want their favorite player to see them wearing their jersey out there." Tyler Paulus, a 21-year-old who is interning for the second straight year, says that fans routinely cannot contain their excitement while walking through the tent. "They go without football for 6 to 8 months," he said. "Everyone is so excited and so happy to be here."

During camp, the interns, like all the other Eagles employees staying in the dorms alongside the players. They eat with them, work next to them and, essentially, live with them. "Eating with the players," intern Tanner Barbon replies when asked about the best part of his day. "Seeing Vick on the field and then seeing him eating mash potatoes next to me is awesome. I was nervous at first, but after awhile I got used to making small talk."

3:03 p.m. The first VIP guests are ushered onto the field from their perches in the stands. It is really only about 10 yards closer, and VIPs have to stand on the field, but it does offer an intimacy you can't get during any regular season game. Nayerahmadi has his orders not to let anyone on the field before the horn that ends "Group Install" drills. Each VIPs get instructions from marketing intern Justin Mitchell: no cell phones out, no cameras, water bottles are okay, but must be put in clear plastic bags the team provides. The big rule, though, is that while out on the field, the VIPs have to stay confined behind white-lined areas, no exceptions. If they want to leave, even to go to the bathroom, they have to signal an intern to take them. "It is really for safety for everyone," said Nayerahmadi. "You don't want a player running to the sidelines and falling over you or tripping on a water bottle. The big thing is that they have to pay attention. No sitting or even kneeling - you have to be ready to get out of the way."

3:15 p.m. Brandon Hughes, who will later be involved in a scuffle with DeSean Jackson, calls over Delimitros to help him with a problem he is having with his helmet. Delimitros promptly pulls a pump out of the kit he wears around his waist to fix the air in Hughes' helmet. During practice, Delimitros walks in between the various drills, making himself available to whomever may need him. "You're always busy," he says, referring to the equipment staff. A minute later, Toney beeps the air horn and yells "Group Install" at the top of his lungs, and the whole team moves at once and to get ready for the next drill. Toney constantly checks the chart attached to his waist, walking in between drills and communicating with coaches how much time is left in a certain part of practice.

3:30 p.m. Nayerahmadi notices - from about 40 yards away - a VIP kneeling near the sidelines. He is quick to his radio. "Tell that guy to get up. Last guy in line," he barks. Within seconds, an intern is there. "Yeah, you got him. Great." For the next 45 minutes or so, Mitchell and Nayerahmadi do nothing but circle the white lines of VIP standing area. For those who know, it is almost a comical scene - like a prelim version of musical chairs, where the two Eagles employees look down to make sure no one edges out of the white lines. "I know it looks funny, but it is how Coach wants it, and it is easy to do, so we do it," said Nayerahmadi.

3:46 p.m. Offensive Line Coach Mudd - well known for colorful language - is starting to get aggravated with second-year guard Danny Watkins during an offense drill. "Dammit Danny," Mudd screams, "set yourself!" A minute later, defensive lineman Mike Patterson, who is out indefinitely while recovering from brain surgery, makes his way onto the field wearing a t-shirt and shorts. Patterson acknowledges the cheers from the crowd, and nods to the fan who wishes him a "speedy recovery, buddy."

3:46 p.m. Eagles community affairs coordinator Holly Hubbard arrives at the autograph tent to set up for the day's session. She has 11 pieces of paper, each bearing the name and uniform number of a wide receiver. Each place is set with the name tags and a folded towel. There are three rows of tables; each corresponds to a line of ticketholders. "We make sure there's a starter in each line," says Hubbard. Besides Jackson, today's first-teamers include Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant. All three are positioned so they are the first ones the fans will approach.

3:56 p.m. The video guys stop taping midway through practice to change tapes. From atop the cherry picker, Dougherty inserts the tape into a yellow mesh bag and lowers it down to assistant Tom Carmody. Carmody hustles the practice tapes back to the coaches offices. After a winding, 3-mile drive up to Lehigh's Packer campus, Carmody arrives at the coaches' offices, otherwise known as the Sayre Hall dorm rooms. Carmody cuts and edits the tapes so that Reid and his staff can start viewing them immediately after practice.

4:30 p.m. While almost all the fans at practice are fixated on the scrimmaging on the main field, punter Chas Henry sends footballs flying high into the air, working on coffin corner punts as two ball boys stand out of bounds inside the 20-yard line to catch them. The need for ball boys is probably greatest for the specialists, who constantly need people to retrieve footballs, whether it is from Henry's punts or Alex Henery's kicks. The term "ball boy" is much more a title than job description during training camp, as the group is counted on to perform multiple tasks. During the scrimmage, some serve as the chain gang. In the middle of other drills, they are called on to hold pads for offensive linemen or even simulate shotgun snaps to quarterbacks. 4:41 p.m. - An ambulance arrives for wide receiver Ron Johnson, who suffered a dislocated ankle in practice. The following day, he would be released with an injury settlement.

4:58 p.m. After the VIPs get marched off the field by the interns, Justin Mitchell and a few other interns station themselves at the autograph tent. Mitchell checks every ticket and directs the winner to one of three lines. At the front of each line, another intern checks again, just to make sure. "I guess you could sneak in, but we want to make it fair. We can't have 6,000 people get autographs, but we want as many as possible to have the chance," said Nayerahmadi, who stations himself at the end of the line, just to make sure nothing goes awry. There is a Lehigh police officer there, too, but Nayerahmadi said there has never been a problem. "I think we run it so that doesn't come up," he said. "It is the end of a long day for fans, and I think they want to end it right."

5:06 p.m. An extended blow of an air horn signals the end of practice. Players stagger off the field and head toward Varsity House, where the locker rooms are located, before heading up to the main campus for dinner. A few minutes later, Michael Vick and a host of other Eagles stop to sign autographs for a group of disabled fans gathered near the entrance to the Varsity House. "I want you to win the Super Bowl," one fan says to Vick. "We will," Vick responds. "Just for you." Out on the field, backup quarterbacks Trent Edwards and Nick Foles and rookie free agent tight end Chase Ford run a series of sprints before heading in to the locker room.

5:11 p.m. The players begin arriving in the tent, still in uniform. The decibel level in the wall-less tent increases as the fans stream through. Although the policy is one player signature per fan, things quickly devolve into semi-chaos as some people request multiple autographs and/or pictures with the players. But the vibe is good-natured, and the players take it all with smiles.

5:15 p.m. Dinner is delivered to the coaches dorms, with the exception of Andy Reid. His meal is delivered separately an hour later.

5:17 p.m. After practice, quarterback Mike Kafka works on his timing with tight ends Clay Harbor and Chase Ford while a ball boy assists with the drill, as is often the case when players need individual work. Others ball boys collect and pack equipment into the trailer and two storage bins on the right side of the main field near the bleachers.

5:18 p.m. Emerging from the far side of the tent, fan Jen Anderson proudly holds her sign, upon which are the signatures of Jackson, Chad Hall and Marvin McNutt. "It was awesome," she says of her long day at training camp. "I enjoyed it. I just hope the players understand how much Philadelphia fans love their football team."

5:30 The dining hall officially opens for dinner, serving everything from a traditional pasta dish to surf and turf. Players begin filing into the around 6 p.m. Tonight, their choices range from traditional pasta dishes to something slightly more upscale. "The other night we served surf and turf," says Cheryl Ann Lawrence, the Director of Dining for Lehigh. "In one meal, we served 200 pounds of filet mignon and 250 pounds of lobster tail." Lobster isn't the only delicacy the players are treated to. "Every year, we have a crab night," Chef David Casey says. "It can be difficult to cook 250 pounds of crab legs, but we make it work. We have one person whose entire job that night is steaming crabs."

5:30 p.m. As the last of the players head into the locker room, the grounds crew repaints over the Eagles logo on the small hill overlooking practice field 2. The crew's day ends by going back over the fields, fixing the divots created by players after the high intensity practice. Inside, ball boys and the equipment staff clean up the locker room: collecting, separating, and shipping out the players' - and much of the staff's - laundry, a process that is overseen all day by assistant equipment manager Kenny Slough.

7:30 p.m. Dinner is over, but the work is not. A light snack is prepared and delivered to the players and coaches in the dorms. In the kitchen, workers break down the dining area while the cooks begin preparing food for the next day's meals.

8:00 p.m. After an hour of downtime in the cafeteria, Greg Delimitros and the equipment staff usually go back to the locker room to examine every player's equipment, from helmets and shoulder pads to shoes. "It makes things a lot easier when you check every night, because when you're at practice and someone's got a bent mask, it's hard to deal with on the fly," Delimitros says. Because it's a Monday, though, Tuesday's scheduled off day provides a slight break for the equipment staff, and they get to leave the facility at 8:00 p.m.

9 p.m. The final touches are put on dining area, making sure it is clean and ready for the next morning. The workers in the dishroom finish up and turn off the lights in the kitchen, signaling the end the day. In less than six hours, the lights will come back on.

Produced by Michele Tranquilli / Daily News