Brent Celek is entering his 11th NFL season. He plays the game the old-fashioned way – hard, fearless, and unrelenting.
Even in his younger days, when he probably was a step or two faster, the Eagles tight end never was a make-you-miss player. His 32-year-old body has absorbed more punishment than a car in a demolition derby.
But in an era when a growing number of players have been mulling early retirement because of fears of not remembering their kids' names in 10 years, Celek eagerly motors on.
"This was my dream to play in the NFL,'' he said this past week. "Any opportunity you get [to play] you take advantage of it.
"I've played with a lot of guys here who were some of my best friends who are no longer here, who no longer are playing. I know a lot of them wish they could still go out there on game day and still do things.
"I do it for that. I do it for these guys in this locker room. I love this game.''
Celek is the kind of guy every coach wants in his locker room. A respected leader totally committed to the cause. Willing to do whatever his bosses need him to do.
"That's the sign of a great teammate, in my opinion, being on the teams I've been on,'' he said. "So that's what I want to be. Whatever these guys need me to do, I'm going to try to do it to the best of my ability and try to make plays when I can make plays.''
Celek has missed just one game in 10 seasons. That was in 2012, when he suffered a concussion and couldn't get cleared in time to play in a short-week Thursday night game. Never mind that it was a meaningless game late in a lost 4-12 season. It still bugs him.
He once was one of the team's top receiving threats. He caught 76 passes and had nine touchdown catches in 2009. Had 62 catches in 2011. In 2013, he had six touchdown catches on just 32 receptions.
Zach Ertz, who had a team-high 78 catches last year, has replaced Celek as the team's No. 1 receiving tight end. And the Eagles' other tight end, Trey Burton, had 37 catches last year.
The last couple of years, Celek largely has earned his keep as a blocker. Even at 32, he remains one of the league's better blocking tight ends.
He played nearly 40 percent of the offensive snaps last season, but had just 14 catches, only eight for first downs. He scored no touchdowns and had not a single third-down reception.
He signed a three-year, $13 million contract extension with the Eagles after the 2015 season. When the Eagles came back to him in April and told him they wanted to lop a million bucks off his 2017 base to create some more cap space, he agreed.
Would the Eagles have let him go if he didn't? Possibly. But there were no hard feelings. Celek understands that football is a business. He also knew that his current deal still is probably better than any he could get on the open market at this point in his career.
Celek said it would be ideal to retire as an Eagle. That doesn't happen to many players in the salary cap era.
"I'd love that,'' he said. "I love this organization and everything they've done for me. Now, it's time for me to help give back and try to win something here. Because that's what matters.
"The city deserves it. This organization deserves it. It's my job to help lead this team to do that. So I've got a big job to do.''
In Celek's second season with the Eagles, in 2008, they made it to the NFC championship game. They beat the Vikings and the Giants before losing to the Cardinals, 32-25. Celek caught 10 passes, two for touchdowns, in that heartbreaking defeat.
The Eagles have been to the playoffs just three times since, going one-and-done each time.
"When you go to the [conference] championship game your second year, you're thinking, OK, we've got a great football team and we're going to be back here again,'' Celek said.
"Obviously, that hasn't happened. You can't take those things for granted. You have to work like you've never been there before. We have to do everything in our power to get back there because that's all that matters.
"This city only cares about [getting to] the Super Bowl. They don't care about nothing else.''
Celek always has understood the uncertainty of football. Whether it be because of injury or numbers or diminishing talent, he knows every game could be his last. He takes nothing for granted.
"I'm just taking it year by year, day by day,'' he said. "I'm trying to enjoy every moment of it. Because it could be taken away at any moment. Especially considering where I'm at age-wise.''
As long as he remains healthy, Celek will be an Eagles for at least one more season, maybe longer. While both Ertz and Burton have improved as blockers, neither is as dependable in that area as Celek.
Because of the pass-catching ability of all three of his tight ends, coach Doug Pederson used a lot of three-tight-end sets last season. Quarterback Carson Wentz threw the ball 39 times out of one such formation, completing 30 passes.
"I still feel I can do a great job out there,'' Celek said. "I just have to do a lot of extra stuff off the field to make sure I can do that. As long as I'm continuing to do that stuff, I think I'll be fine.''
Celek was one of the veterans who bought into Chip Kelly's sports science approach when he was hired in 2013. Even though Kelly is long gone, Celek still uses a lot of Kelly's body-preserving tips. He said they have extended his career.
"I have to do that stuff,'' he said. "If I don't stretch [for 45 minutes] before I go to bed or I don't wake up early and come in here and stretch and work out and get my body feeling right, I won't last very long.