Video: Philadelphia Eagles sign a real warrior

posted at 5:21 pm on May 7, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Everyone who has read Hot Air during football season knows that I’m a die-hard Pittsburgh Steeler fan, but I may find myself rooting for their cross-state rivals on occasion. Philadelphia Eagles fans may be best known for booing Santa, but they have a chance to cheer for a rookie who may end up teaching the veterans what it means to be a real warrior. Former West Point standout Alejandro Villanueva returned from his third tour of duty in Afghanistan to sign with the Eagles as a defensive lineman, and might even end up doing some work at tight end if he makes the team:

The Philadelphia Eagles have signed Alejandro Villanueva, a 6-foot-9 defensive lineman who spent the past four years as an active member of the United States Army and most recently served as a U.S. Army Ranger.

The Eagles announced the move Monday, saying in a news release that Villanueva signed a rookie free-agent contract.

The 277-pound Villanueva served three tours in Afghanistan. He was recently promoted to captain.

The New York Daily News also notes that the usual “warrior” analogies will sound sillier than usual if/when Villanueva takes the field:

Comparing football games to wars and battles — already an absurd analogy — will seem even sillier in Philadelphia this season. …

“As soon as I graduated, especially with all my classmates at West Point who were all going to serve, my mind and my heart were going to Afghanistan,” Villanueva told NFL.com. “That’s where I wanted to be. I wanted to serve, I wanted to see combat. I was actually trying to get as many deployments as I could, and see it with different units. That’s where my mind and my heart was.”

The Eagles zeroed in on the 25-year-old when seeing him at a super regional combine in Detroit in March. Now a defensive end, Villanueva also played on the offensive line and at wide receiver with Army, leading the Black Knights in catches (34), yards (522) and touchdowns (5) as a senior.

He’s going in as a defensive end, but with the hands displayed in his senior year, one would have to imagine that the Eagles might want to put him on the offense, at least occasionally. At 6-9, he’d make a big target and would be almost impossible to defend. He’ll be fun to watch on either side of the line, though, and will cut an inspirational figure on the field — as well as provide some needed perspective to the game. Let’s hope he makes the cut for 2014, and kudos to the Eagles for giving Villanueva his opportunity.


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Go Army Rangers!!!

Schadenfreude on May 7, 2014 at 5:26 PM

I thought the “will they or won’t they/they have to!!” football news today was all and only that Sams guy.

Marcus on May 7, 2014 at 5:28 PM

Awesome. Hope he makes the cut.

Brat on May 7, 2014 at 5:29 PM

Chip Kelly loves to send his tight ends out on passing routes. If he makes the team, he’ll fit perfectly into the scheme.

blammm on May 7, 2014 at 5:29 PM

Woe be unto the dirty offensive lineman who tries the old “finger in the eye” trick on the bottom of a dog pile.

Rangers aren’t your average soldier.

BobMbx on May 7, 2014 at 5:30 PM

Good for the Eagles — from a Giants fan.

rbj on May 7, 2014 at 5:42 PM

Coming from an Air Force guy, and not an Eagles fan – I hope he does well.

dentarthurdent on May 7, 2014 at 5:45 PM

I hope this true American hero has a long and outstanding career.

LASue on May 7, 2014 at 5:46 PM

E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES!

CycloneCDB on May 7, 2014 at 5:47 PM

Looks like a really good guy – and a real Ranger – Bronze Star with V (Valor) for rescuing wounded soldiers under enemy fire in his first deployment.

dentarthurdent on May 7, 2014 at 5:47 PM

E-A-G-L-E-S…….EAGLES!!!!!

Oh and I want CJ Mosley in the 1st rd. if available.

StubbornGreenBurros on May 7, 2014 at 5:50 PM

So there will be a sequel to Invincible then?

Scottie on May 7, 2014 at 5:51 PM

“Rangers lead the way” I wish him the best!

Sven on May 7, 2014 at 5:53 PM

And my Jets get a dog abuser.

JetBoy on May 7, 2014 at 5:57 PM

Everyone who has read Hot Air during football season knows that I’m a die-hard Pittsburgh Steeler fan

And we love you anyway despite your shortcomings. But what’s not to like about a story where a combat veteran joins the Eagles? Far more of an uplifting story than when the Eagles booed Santa or signed a street thug convicted of dog fighting.

Happy Nomad on May 7, 2014 at 6:01 PM

And my Jets get a dog abuser.

JetBoy on May 7, 2014 at 5:57 PM

I would have thought that Jets fans were used to the abuse by this point.

Happy Nomad on May 7, 2014 at 6:02 PM

Woah, six foot nine. The Tali-scum must have sh*t their sheet clothing when they saw him coming.

Hope he does well in the NFL. Seems like a really cool guy.

WhatSlushfund on May 7, 2014 at 6:03 PM

So cool!!!

Cindy Munford on May 7, 2014 at 6:07 PM

He’s going in as a defensive end, but with the hands displayed in his senior year, one would have to imagine that the Eagles might want to put him on the offense, at least occasionally. At 6-9, he’d make a big target and would be almost impossible to defend.

If he can jump and catch passes, he would make a great tight end, and be every opposing cornerback’s worst nightmare. The Eagles should definitely put him on offense! Move over, Gronkowski!

Steve Z on May 7, 2014 at 6:09 PM

Really hope he makes the team. Either way, he’s a man of character I’m sure (to have successfully graduated from West Point and been on three tours), so he’ll meet head-on whatever comes his way.

I spent decades with season tickets attending Army football games at Michie Stadium with my family, one of the best venues for a football game in the entire country. Sadly, moving away (and an aging father) meant an end to that tradition. Army has been struggling for a while now on the gridiron, but I can still hear the cannons and the cadets singing the Army fight song.

“On, brave old Army team!
On to the fray.
Fight on to victory,
For that’s the fearless Army way.”

Go Army, Beat Navy!*

* Would you, please…once more in my lifetime. Please. It’s been too long.

xNavigator on May 7, 2014 at 6:09 PM

The Eagles actually have fans? Huh.

Bishop on May 7, 2014 at 6:13 PM

I hope he makes all-pro his first season, then moves to the Cowboys. Hee, hee. Go Army!

vnvet on May 7, 2014 at 6:14 PM

Why oh why do the Eagles have to go and do something to make me hate them less?

Texas Zombie on May 7, 2014 at 6:19 PM

However, the interviewer forgot to ask him the most important question: Did you get any kills?

Hooah

WhatSlushfund on May 7, 2014 at 6:24 PM

The Eagles actually have fans? Huh.

Bishop on May 7, 2014 at 6:13 PM

Eagles are like Germans who supported Hitler. They’re out there but you won’t find any of them admitting the fact.

Happy Nomad on May 7, 2014 at 6:28 PM

Go Army, Beat Navy!*

* Would you, please…once more in my lifetime. Please. It’s been too long.

xNavigator on May 7, 2014 at 6:09 PM

What’s it been, like ten years?

Happy Nomad on May 7, 2014 at 6:29 PM

I like that there isn’t much scale in the photo and you can still tell he’s huge.

rogerb on May 7, 2014 at 6:35 PM

another Invincible story, yes

jake49 on May 7, 2014 at 6:37 PM

Everyone who has read Hot Air during football season knows that I’m a die-hard Pittsburgh Steeler fan, but I may find myself rooting for their cross-state rivals on occasion.

….the Minnesota Vikings?

KOOLAID2 on May 7, 2014 at 6:49 PM

I would have thought that Jets fans were used to the abuse by this point.

Happy Nomad on May 7, 2014 at 6:02 PM

We are…but there’s no need for animals to suffer, too.

JetBoy on May 7, 2014 at 6:51 PM

I hope he kicks ass… and kudos to the Eagles,from a former N.F.L. watcher

falsecast on May 7, 2014 at 6:52 PM

Go Army, Beat Navy!*
* Would you, please…once more in my lifetime. Please. It’s been too long.

xNavigator on May 7, 2014 at 6:09 PM

As an Air Force grad – I don’t cheer for Army or Navy when they play against AF – but I do every other game.
And I’ll cheer for either Army or Navy when they play each other if one of them has a chance to take the CIC trophy away from AF – as in whichever way benefits AF….
But I really do wish Army would get better. It’s not much of a rivalry when one of the teams is as bad as Army has been for quite a few years.

And I really want to see Alejandro do great and tear up the rest of the NFL – except if they play the Broncos….

dentarthurdent on May 7, 2014 at 7:18 PM

Why oh why do the Eagles have to go and do something to make me hate them less?

Texas Zombie on May 7, 2014 at 6:19 PM

Maybe this Texas guy will make you feel better. Go Mean Green!!
2013 Armed Forces Merit Award

gregbert on May 7, 2014 at 7:30 PM

In a nation that has largely lost its manhood, too impotent even to defend its unborn, we need every real man we can get. GO ALEJANDRO: Alexander the Great!

russedav on May 7, 2014 at 7:31 PM

Philadelphia Eagles fans may be best known for booing Santa,

Oh please stop!

The real Santa didn’t show up so they put a 145 lb grounds guy in the Santa suit!

A Jets fan punched a female Pats fan in the face last year. Can’t we take a back seat to that now? A Dodgers fan put a Giants fan in a coma and he has brain damage. Etc. Enough!

Akzed on May 7, 2014 at 7:36 PM

The Eagles actually have fans? Huh.
Bishop on May 7, 2014 at 6:13 PM

Hey, I resemble that remark.

Akzed on May 7, 2014 at 7:37 PM

I live and die with the Eagles. Put me in a room with any of you Dallas fans and we’ll see who comes out.

By the way, I love Texas. And West Texas music. Ya’ll kick ass. GO TED CRUZ 2016 !!!

birdhurd on May 7, 2014 at 8:05 PM

My new favorite team….same as my old favorite team except more so

cthemfly on May 7, 2014 at 8:46 PM

Eagles are like Germans who supported Hitler. They’re out there but you won’t find any of them admitting the fact.

We are legion.

Fly, Eagles, Fly!

spec_ops_mateo on May 7, 2014 at 10:53 PM

What’s it been, like ten years?

Happy Nomad on May 7, 2014 at 6:29 PM

2001 was the last Army victory in the Army-Navy matchup. I haven’t been to one since the 90s, however, but for an Army fan, what a time that was to be there! They won five in a row, from 92-96, by a total of ten points. Five wins, ten points TOTAL!

Man, those were great games. It’s been very hard to be interested in the series now with it being so lopsided.

Sometimes I wish I’d been born twenty years earlier. I could have experienced Red Blaik and Pete Dawkins. Or a bit earlier and seen Doc Blanchard and Glen Davis.

As an Air Force grad – I don’t cheer for Army or Navy when they play against AF – but I do every other game.

dentarthurdent on May 7, 2014 at 7:18 PM

Same here in rooting for the military academies every chance I get. We really do need an improved Army team to make the CiC trophy more competitive and interesting.

Army has fielded a pretty terrible football team for going on two decades, really. Their last solid season was 96. :-( I suppose it’s fortunate that my family gave up our season tickets not too long thereafter. I go occasionally for a game. Might catch one next season with my son and brother.

xNavigator on May 7, 2014 at 11:35 PM

…the Minnesota Vikings?

KOOLAID2 on May 7, 2014 at 6:49 PM

Really? They have fans? Would their fans admit it in public?

Then again, that could all change if they get a decent QB from this draft. If they did, that whole division could be pretty decent.

Seamus on May 8, 2014 at 2:40 PM