By Mark Eckel, Player Engagement Insider
Chase Daniel thought it was easy. One year into his NFL career, albeit a kind of crazy year, and one Super Bowl ring.
“No doubt, you make it your rookie year and you think I’m going to be here every year. This is easy,” Daniel, now in his eighth year in the league, said. “And then you realize, you look back on it and you have a new-found respect for it. Just how difficult it is just to make the playoffs and win some playoff games. Then to actually get to a Super Bowl.”
Daniel, now the Philadelphia Eagles backup quarterback to Carson Wentz, went to Super Bowl XLIV his rookie year with the New Orleans Saints in 2009, and got his ring when the Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts, 31-17, at Sun Life Stadium in Miami.
It almost didn’t happen. Daniel was signed as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Missouri by the Washington Redskins, but was released at final cuts and then picked up by the Saints, who signed him to their practice squad.
He was promoted to the active roster as the No. 3 quarterback by the end of September, and then went back and forth between the practice squad and roster a few times before being promoted back to the roster for the playoffs.
“It was pretty surreal. You definitely remember it, but it was a whirlwind, especially being your rookie year,’’ Daniel said. “By the end of that year you’ve played so much football. You played your senior season of college, then the Combine, all your workouts, the Draft, then it’s preseason, regular season, playoffs, it’s a lot.”
The Saints’ top two quarterbacks that 2009 season were Drew Brees and Mark Brunell. Those are two pretty good minds for a rookie quarterback to absorb all kinds of information.
“It was amazing,” Daniel said. “You couldn’t have asked for a better situation for a rookie quarterback. I probably took as many notes that year as I have every other year combined. Two living legends, two guys who played so long. It was a perfect situation for me to learn how to act, how to breathe, like a NFL QB.”
And what to do when as a rookie your season ends in the Super Bowl?
“You have two weeks to get ready for the game,” Daniel said. “Once we won the NFC Championship Game, and we did it in dramatic fashion on a game-winning field goal against the Vikings, it starts. I didn’t know what to expect, no idea. Then it was ‘all right everyone get your stuff done, your ticket requests, hotels, blah blah blah.’ Then, all of a sudden, you’re down in Miami a week before the game.
“You just try to get everything done that first week. It’s difficult at times, because there are so many distractions, everyone is pulling you in different directions. You just try to make the week as normal as possible.”
Daniel earned the No. 2 quarterback job the following season with the Saints and the team went to the playoffs in both 2010 and 2011, but lost in the first and second rounds respectively. He went to the postseason twice with the Kansas City Chiefs, as well, but also lost in the first round (2013) and the second round (2015).
Now, he’s with the Eagles, and in his eighth NFL season.
“It seems like a long time ago,’’ he said of that rookie Super Bowl year. “Winning the NFC Championship game was awesome. It was fun. The whole process was just so, so crazy. It happens really fast and you try to enjoy it. I think I would have a whole other respect for it if I were to go back again. Maybe enjoy the process more and appreciate what it took to get there.”