The first weekend of the NFL season was special for Eagles coach Doug Pederson and defensive line coach Chris Wilson, because the Eagles weren't playing – they'd kicked off the league slate Thursday night against the Falcons.
No game meant Pederson could travel to Monroe, La., for the Saturday matchup between Louisiana-Monroe and Southern Mississippi, featuring the second of his three sons, Louisiana-Monroe redshirt sophomore tight end Josh Pederson.
It meant that Wilson could travel to Norman, Okla., to watch his son, redshirt junior Caleb, also a tight end, play for UCLA against the Sooners.
Most parents of college athletes, if they have the means, can go watch their kids play any time they want. But if you're coaching in the NFL, such opportunities are rare and much coveted.
Pederson already has his second and final Louisiana-Monroe trip of the season set up, for the first weekend of November, the Eagles' bye week.
"He's fired up anytime we're down there watching him," Pederson said.
Wilson had hoped for a much closer connection to his son's college football career. Though he was a three-star prospect, Caleb walked on at USC when Chris was defensive line coach there, under Steve Sarkisian. He could go to school for free because his father was a school employee. That was the setup for Caleb's redshirt year. But when Sarkisian was fired in 2015, Chris also found himself out of a job.
"His freshman year, we were together. That's probably one of my fondest memories of coaching," Chris Wilson said. "And then after our staff was let go, he went to UCLA with coach [Jim] Mora and [Marques] Tuiasosopo, who was his position coach back then. The rest is kind of history since that point."
History being, Mora and his staff were dismissed last winter. Now Caleb plays for former Eagles coach Chip Kelly.
But Caleb Wilson knew all about this sort of disruptive thing before he ever signed a letter of intent. The Eagles are his father's 10th destination in a 25-year coaching career, and that's if you count two stints at Indiana State as a single entry.
Caleb spent his sophomore year of high school in Starkville, Miss, when Chris was at Mississippi State; his junior year in Bogart, Ga., when Chris was with the Georgia Bulldogs; and his senior year in Gardena, Calif., after Chris moved to USC. It's a wonder the college recruiters knew where to find him.
"Change is tough," Chris Wilson acknowledged, when asked about how Caleb is adjusting to the new staff. "He has the benefit of being a coach's kid and living all over the country, and that experience. That's his norm."
Chris Wilson, who grew up in the Dallas area and played linebacker at Oklahoma without experiencing any sudden changes of plans, said he has always agonized over the effect of his family, as each relocation loomed.
"You always put your kids into consideration when you're making those kinds of moves. Some of them you get to choose, some of them you don't," he said. "One we got to choose [was], leaving Georgia and heading to USC – a great opportunity for our daughter [Colby] who is a soccer player [now on scholarship at Eastern Washington] … It helped both the kids."
The Pederson family's path has been slightly less disruptive, at least since Doug ended his quarterbacking career in 2004. He coached a high school team in Shreveport, La., from 2005-08, then went to work for Reid with the Eagles. Since then it's been four years here, three years with Reid in Kansas City, and now, going on three years back here.
Moving is a tricky thing, if you have offspring with athletic scholarship aspirations. If your son or daughter is, say, a point guard, and you move to a school district where the basketball coach already has a good, established point guard, suddenly, your son or daughter's path to college could be in jeopardy.
"It's hard, especially when you have athletes. New teams, new friends," Pederson said. "Particularly when they're that high school age. Our oldest son, Drew, when we moved to Philly [in 2009], he was coming out of eighth grade into ninth grade. And then he was here for all four years of high school."
Drew just finished his quarterbacking career at Samford University, in Alabama; now he's going to grad school to become an architect, at the University of Cincinnati. Josh began his high school football career in Overland Park, Kan., with Doug serving as Reid's offensive coordinator for the Chiefs. He finished at Moorestown (N.J.) High.
When the Eagles are on the road, as they were last weekend at Tampa, the team's video department knows it has an urgent Saturday assignment – go to the head coach's room and hook up his pad device to the TV, so he can stream the Louisiana-Monroe game.
Watching in person or on TV, does Pederson view the game as a parent/fan, or as a football coach?
"It's a little of both," said Pederson, who quarterbacked Louisiana-Monroe when it was Northeast Louisiana. "Of course, it's my alma mater, too, so I watch as a fan. … I'm watching probably more offenses, with all this spread going on in college football. I'm taking little nuggets here and there. Seeing if something catches my eye – something unique about a motion. A shift, a play, that maybe somehow we can implement here."
Does he give Josh advice?
"I try to stay away from that, because I don't know what his coaches are teaching him. I'm not there. I look at it from afar," Pederson said.
Wilson said something similar.
"It's 80 percent dad, 20 percent coach," he said. "As a coach, you can't not learn. You're always sitting there going, 'That's unique, that's pretty good,' or 'I'd do that a little different.'
"I don't really go watch tape of him, but what he'll do, he'll send me certain clips and go, 'Hey Dad, can you give me some advice here?' It's always with blocking, it's never with catching, because he's the expert on that, but we'll talk about the details and the techniques you can use."
The one game Chris saw Caleb play last season, against Colorado, Caleb suffered a Lisfranc injury – the same foot fracture that curtailed Chris's career, 25 years earlier. Today, though, medical advances have made that injury just a bump in the road. Caleb is healthy now, though his Bruins are struggling at 0-3.
"I think the benefit of what we do is, you get the best of both worlds. He has a tough time [moving around], but he also goes to the Super Bowl, and he sits in the locker room with Fletcher Cox and Carson Wentz and Zach Ertz. He's got a lot of moments … we're very fortunate," Chris Wilson said.
Chris Wilson said Caleb has talked of coaching once he is done playing, which might not be for a while yet – he's an NFL prospect. His father isn't against the idea, as tough a life as coaching can be. Pederson thinks the same might be true of at least one of his three boys, and he takes the same attitude toward it as Wilson.