Following a rigorous day at the office where I covered an event at a local library attended by seven children, I hopped on 1-90 to Rochester to celebrate the end of 2016 with college roommates. Buckingham Palace, as we liked to call it, was the then home of Casandra and Rob in the pre-Ellie days. The destination took longer than expected as the snow around Syracuse tried its hardest to delay. Upon arrival that Friday night, a friend or two informed me of a magical item located several blocks away.
Nelson Agholor stunk in 2016. He didn’t line up correctly against the Seahawks negating a play that resulted in a long Zach Ertz touchdown. Shortly after, he dropped a pass that might have resulted in a touchdown. The following week Doug Pederson benched the former first-rounder in a home Monday Night Football game against the Green Bay Packers. It was a pivotal game, and the guy who was supposed to be Carson Wentz’ top option was wearing sweats on the sidelines. The takes were stronger than the darkest roast imaginable. Another failure from Chip Kelly. A bust just two years into a career. How can he ever recover from this? Cut him, the tweets said. Agholor scored a touchdown in Week 16 against the Giants, ending a terrible season on a high note. (He ended with zero catches and zero targets in Week 17). Many expected Agholor to fade into oblivion despite that touchdown against New York.
But some national convenience store had other plans.
That Sunday, following a weekend filled with bowling, watching Rob compete in a basketball game and hours of JackBox TV, Rob, Casandra and I hung out at his parent’s house on MacIntosh Drive. Before we made the trip, however, we stopped at 7-11 to purchase the item my friends injected into my mind. Feet away from the gum and warm socks stood a stand hung with koozies. Andrew Luck, Tom Brady, possibly Adrian Peterson. None of those big-time names meant much. It was Agholor who I was after.
It cost maybe $7, a 2017 first purchase. The No. 17 Agholor Koozie.
It was a joke at first, some gag gift I’d keep to remember the NFL at one time existed.
But it’s turned into something much more.
Living in Albany at the time, my roommate and cousin Chuck and I would drink beers some weekends, and of course, the Agholor Koozie was used regularly. With his career still very much in limbo, the Eagles signed Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. Jeffery was one of the top-rated wide outs in free agency, while Smith was more of a deep threat, situational player. Philadelphia already had a slot receiver in Jordan Matthews, so it appeared maybe the Agholor Koozie would go to waste. Jeffery wore No. 17. Agholor changed his number to 13. The off-season continued.
At the end of July, Daniel Adrat, the better part of Ginger Jive, trekked up to my new home outside Saratoga Springs with a cooler in hand. We headed to the race track to bet, drink beers and, at least from Danny A’s perspective, interact with employees. I used Agholor to keep the beers refreshing, while Dan went with a koozie celebrating the wedding of Meghan and Garrett Franklin. The day was a win as we ate nachos from a place in town. The next morning Dan left it was days before he’d begin his trip out West. In his car was the cooler and in the cooler was the Agholor koozie. Out West in went to my friends Matt and Jess’s home in Tacoma.
Meanwhile training camp in Philadelphia was well underway. Reports said Agholor looked better with each passing day. But the wide receiver room felt crowded since Matthews played the slot. In the middle of August, however, the Eagles made a trade. Sending Matthews to the Bills, which paved the way for Agholor to be the team’s slot receiver.
Flash forward to opening day against that Washington football team. The first drive of the season with high expectations found Wentz in trouble on a third down. Evading multiple pass rushers, Wentz flicked his wrist. Agholor juggled the ball for a second before gathering it and running into the end zone. Agholor Koozie season commenced. Since then, almost every week when Agholor makes a big play or two I simply tweet out Agholor Koozie Season!
Days before Week 16, it’s staggering how well Agholor has performed. The former USC Trojan has 700 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. The koozie remains in Danny A’s possession, but he’s back East now, so it’s only a matter of weeks until the koozie and I are reunited.