PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A career in Philadelphia has ended for an all-time Eagles great. It’s been an emotional week for Zach Ertz, who juggled the emotions of knowing a trade was coming and playing his final game at Lincoln Financial Field Thursday night.
As people in Ertz’s life started to find out he was leaving Philadelphia, there was one thing they didn’t understand, and it kind of “irked” him. While his wife Julie Ertz is originally from Arizona, and it’s closer to California where he grew up, they no longer call those states home.READ MORE: Timberwolves Spoil Embiid's 76ers Return With 2OT Victory
“This is home. Philadelphia is home,” Ertz said. “And that was tough to articulate to people, that I love this place, I’ve said it all along. It’s a great opportunity to be here and I loved it here. I did the best I could every day and I can leave knowing that and this isn’t going to be the last you’re going to see of me in this city.”
Ertz got emotional as he talked about his love for the City of Brotherly Love after being traded to the Arizona Cardinals on Friday, and rightfully so.
He’s spent his whole career in this city. He and Julie grew roots here.
He didn’t want to leave the organization that drafted him with the 35th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, making his final game in midnight green at Lincoln Financial Field extremely emotional.
“I was crying at my locker last night for 30 minutes and I felt bad because the guys didn’t really know, but I couldn’t help it,” Ertz said.
Last season he wanted a contract extension, and when an agreement wasn’t reached, there was speculation the Birds’ final game against Washington would be his final appearance at the Linc.
Being able to come back this season and end his career with the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field in front of a stadium full of die-hard fans was priceless.
“It was special,” Ertz said. “Last January against Washington, there were no fans so it was weird and I’m glad I didn’t end it like that last January and it was special last night. Obviously, we didn’t win, which sucked, but it was fun. It was fun to do what I do out there and I felt like I played great and was myself.”READ MORE: 'It's Just Too Much.' Neighbors Remember 51-Year-Old Gunned Down In Poplar
There are two types of athletes that come into the City of Philadelphia. The ones who can acknowledge the passion that Philadelphia fans have when it comes to watching their teams succeed and the ones who can’t handle the brutal honesty and criticism they might face in here.
“That’s what I loved about this place. People were honest. They’re blunt,” Ertz said.
Ertz embraced this city and the passionate fans. He didn’t get offended by criticism because he knew he was working hard in order to help the Eagles win. This is all he feels the city wants — to see their team win games.
“Standards are so high for a reason, the fans care so much,” Ertz said. “It’s tough for some people, but I loved it and that was the bottom line, I loved playing here. I didn’t care if I got booed, got bad things said on a Monday after a terrible game on Sunday because I knew I was going to be in here on Monday.”
Ertz leaves behind a legacy Eagles fans will never forget.
He is second in the franchise’s catch total behind Harold Carmichael with 579 receptions — just 11 away from surpassing Carmichael.
“Who knows maybe I’ll come back and get 12 more catches and Harold can be No. 2, but I’ll let him have it for a few more years, maybe forever but it’s been fun,” Ertz said.
Ertz also recorded 6,267 yards and 38 touchdowns with the Birds.MORE NEWS: Caught On Camera: Fire Rips Through Vacant Bar In Penns Grove, New Jersey
In 2018 he set a franchise and an NFL record for tight ends with 116 receptions. Ertz ended that season with 1,163 yards and eight touchdowns. He also caught the game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl 52.