Duce Staley is the lastest member of the Philadelphia Eagles to be affected by COVID-19.
Thankfully for Staley, a longtime NFL running back and assistant coach, he hasn’t tested positive for the coronavirus. But Staley’s life and role with the Eagles — a team that already lost receiver Marquise Goodwin to an opt-out — has changed, potentially for a significant amount of time.
Here’s why Staley just received a battlefield promotion in the Philadelphia Eagles‘ war against COVID-19.
Duce Staley played 10 NFL seasons
Older NFL fans will surely remember Duce Staley, a 5-foot-11, 242-pound running back from South Carolina.
After an impressive two seasons with the Gamecocks, Staley entered the NFL as a third-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1997.
Staley posted three 1,000-yard seasons in seven years with the Eagles, although he only averaged four yards per carry. The young running back teamed up with Donovan McNabb to form a unique yet productive offensive in Philadelphia.
At his best, Staley was a bruising running back who carried his way to 1,000-yard seasons because of multiple short runs — his longest run in 1999, when he had a career-high 1,273 yards, went for 29 yards — and a heavy workload.
Staley stayed in Pennsylvania and signed a five-year, $14 million contract with the Eagles in March 2004. The move made sense for Pittsburgh, who needed an eventual replacement for Jerome Bettis.
It also made sense for Staley, who grew up a Steelers fan.
Although Staley ran for 830 yards on 4.3 yards per carry in 2004, he only scored one touchdown. Staley battled injuries in 2005, the year Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers won the Super Bowl.
Staley spent most of the 2006 season on the bench behind Wilie Parker and Najeh Davenport. Pittsburgh released him that December.
Staley has coached with the Eagles since 2011
Duce Staley’s heart has always been in the Philadelphia Eagles’ green and white.
Staley officially retired as a member of the Eagles in 2007. Four years later, he joined Andy Reid’s staff as a special teams quality coach; Staley previously interned with the Eagles in the 2010 offseason.
Although the Eagles have had three coaches in 10 seasons, Staley has worked for each one. Chip Kelly kept Staley when he replaced Reid after the 2012 season, and Doug Pederson did the same when he replaced Kelly in January 2016.
Staley has been the Eagles’ running back coach since 2013. Pederson promoted him to assistant head coach in 2018.
Duce Staley just received an urgent promotion
Duce Staley has a new title: semi-interim head coach.
Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson tested positive for COVID-19 in early-August. Although Pederson will reportedly try to lead the Eagles virtually, Staley will assume head coaching responsibilities.
Staley may not have the chance to hold that role for a game — there are no preseason games this year — but it’s nonetheless an important promotion.
Staley interviewed for the Eagles’ head coaching job in 2016. A strong performance now, whether it’s for a few days or a few weeks, could help his chances of earning a head coaching job down the line.
Philadelphia opens its 2020 season on Sunday, Sept. 13, against the Washington Football Team.