COULD NOT SEE Russia from his tent. Did not meet Sarah Palin.
And Jason Babin didn't make it back from the wilds of Alaska in time for last week's start of full-squad organized team activities, much to his chagrin, even though Eagles coaches didn't seem too upset that a 32-year-old defensive end wasn't present for an optional camp he has been through many times before.
"I don't miss stuff. I'm not late," said Babin, who was on hand Wednesday as the OTAs resumed at NovaCare. A brown bear hunting trip to Cold Bay, Alaska, ended up lasting a few days longer than planned, when bad weather moved in and the small ski plane that delivered Babin and his guide couldn't fetch them.
"When the weather blows in, you don't have a lot of options," Babin said. "There were times when the tent bent in so hard, the tent was in our sleeping bags. There was snow drifting over."
Babin said he saw some bears, didn't end up shooting any. "Didn't see the one I wanted," he said. So what did he do, mostly?
"Survived," he said. "You've got to pack in your food, which are freeze-dried meals. You got to hike up a glacier with snowshoes to get your water. You gotta boil it. If you fall through and get wet while out hiking, no one's gonna come dry you off with a towel. You've got to survive on your wits. It's a combination of hunting and surviving one of the most extreme climates in the U.S."
Despite the temporary stranding, in which he was unable to communicate because he and the guide lacked a satellite phone, Babin said he enjoyed himself.
"The upsetting part is I can't go back until 2014," he said. "The spring hunt's only open every other spring."
After OTAs are over and before training camp, Babin has another adventure planned, he said. He wants to run with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. The question arose, why? Isn't NFL football kind of dangerous and exciting in and of itself? And bull-running injuries tend to void 5-year, $27 million-plus contracts, though a source close to the situation confirmed there is no clause in Babin's contract that would bar him from making the bull run, if he wants to take that chance.
"It's kind of like a rite of passage, it's a stamp. I guess in my brain I have kind of a figurative 'man card.' It's got certain punches, to be punched out," said Babin, who notched 18 sacks and made the Pro Bowl last season in his return to the team he played for much less spectacularly in 2009.
So, has his wife, Sara, broached the subject of extra insurance?
"That has been a discussion," Babin said, "but I'm not trying to make her second husband any wealthier than [he] needs to be."
Babin said he didn't think the bulls would be that scary.
"Everyone thinks it's dangerous and hazardous," Babin said. "As you guys may or may not know, I have cows, I have bulls . Done correctly and soberly . . . I'll break it down like this: Bulls can't turn the corner on cobblestone. As long as you're on the inside, you're going to be all right. I broke the tape down like game film."
Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins was the other vet who missed last week, for a much less colorful reason - Jenkins' wife, Pashun, underwent surgery, fairly routine but still the sort of thing a husband likes to stick around for, especially since, as with Babin, coaches didn't seem to think Jenkins was missing much.
"Everything's good," said Jenkins, 31, who reiterated that he was not upset about the Eagles asking him to redo his contract earlier in the offseason. Jenkins held onto a $5 million 2012 roster bonus but gave up some base salary this year and roster bonus in 2013. "It wasn't a big issue . . . I've been around long enough to kind of know the business ins and outs. I like to be here, and I'd like to stay here. Wherever I can help, whatever I can do, I'm pretty up for it."
Five of Jenkins' 5 1/2 sacks came in the first five games last season. With the addition of first-round draftee Fletcher Cox and the return of 2011 injury victim Antonio Dixon, Jenkins might become more of a rotational player, something that doesn't seem to offend him.
"It wasn't too big a surprise to me," Jenkins said of the Eagles' trading up from 15th to 12th overall and making Cox their highest selection in the first round since Corey Simon (sixth overall) in 2000. "As far as the reps, we rotate anyway. We lost Trevor [Laws] in free agency, so Cox is pretty much coming in and replacing him."