Why is this man smiling?
Because he’s going to the Super Bowl. Again.
Former Navy running back Kyle Eckel punched his ticket to Miami along with the rest of his Saints’ teammates Sunday as New Orleans won a 31-28 overtime thriller over the Minnesota Vikings to win the NFC title.
For Eckel, a 2005 graduate of the Naval Academy, it was hardly a smooth journey back to the Super Bowl. Twice this season he was cut — first by the Philadelphia Eagles and then by the Saints — before being re-signed by the Saints late in the year. Despite being unemployed for parts of the last two regular seasons, Eckel is now fresh off his third conference championship game in as many years, and is set to appear in the second Super Bowl of his career.
Eckel’s first appearance in the Super Bowl came in the 2007-08 season. He had the best statistical year of his career on the Patriots squad that went undefeated before losing the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII. The Patriots released him before the 2008 season, and he was later signed by the Eagles in the middle of that year. The Philadelphia area native appeared in five regular season games for the Eagles as well as all three of their playoff games.
The Philadelphia Inquirer caught up with Eckel before the NFC Championship game. The journeyman fullback told the paper that he’s embraced the underdog mentality in order to weather the setbacks that have come with his pursuit of a career in the NFL.
“The underdog atmosphere that surrounds me has really been a motivating factor,” Eckel said. “Even when I don’t realize it’s there, I think that’s certainly one of the key components of my success.”
In the article Eckel also talks about how he kept busy between NFL gigs by working at a Philadelphia radio station. He said he “had a blast” working in radio, and judging by this very NSFW video showing one of his days as an intern at WMMR, it’s not hard to imagine why.