When Eagles wide receiver Zach Pascal was barely a teenager, he learned a lesson about celebrity and paying it forward.
- “When I was younger [eighth or ninth grade], I went to a Washington Redskins game, or Commanders game, and they were playing the Giants. [Wide receiver] Victor Cruz threw me a ball on sideline. That made me feel like I actually was part of the game in a way,” Pascal said.
- “So I always told myself whenever I made it to the league I’m going to interact. Even if it’s tossing a ball to a fan or a kid, that could change their whole day, their whole life.
- “I would love to be able to do that for somebody.”
Fans are inclined to look up to pro athletes, who sometimes don’t look back. The athletes who do — who spend the moment with a kid, sign the autograph, tousle the hair, say the encouraging word — don’t always realize that what they give often pales in comparison to what they receive.
Pascal doesn’t just talk about reaching out to fans. He does it.
- “Even at the game [against the Jets] I was playing catch with the fans and I was talking to them,” said Pascal, who played at Old Dominion.
- “Even at practice, when I’m talking to the fans and hearing how passionate everybody is about the football team here and the guys here, it’s amazing — being able to grow, being able to connect.
- “Even on social media, the fans be interacting so I really love it.”
Pascal was acquired this offseason as a free agent after four years at Indianapolis. With the Colts, he played for three years under offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni, now the Eagles’ head coach.
Pascal’s stats don’t tell his entire story. He also is known as a passionate blocker with toughness. He sticks his 6-foot-2, 214-pound frame right in the chest of defenders.
He has made 44 starts in four seasons. He had 150 receptions for 1,888 yards and 15 touchdowns.
He is considered the Eagles’ fourth wide receiver in a suddenly deep receiving corps. A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith and Quez Watkins are ahead of him on depth charts, but given his prior working relationship with Sirianni, expect Pascal to see his share of playing time. Pascal said he expects to compete for even more playing time.
LOST 16 POUNDS
Pascal had a nasty bout of food poisoning earlier this month that required a four-day hospital stay.
“I wouldn’t wish this on no man at all,” Pascal said after he returned to practice on Aug. 6.
Pascal lost 16 pounds. Anyone who has had food poisoning knows the suffering he went through.
- “I went out and got some chicken quesadilla, went home, went to sleep, woke up and starting throwing up,” Pascal said. “Throwing up real bad. Couldn’t stop throwing up …
- “Probably took me five, six days [to feel better]. I had to gain my strength back. I especially had to strengthen my stomach after throwing up so many times.”
Pascal says he continues to work to get to full health.
He played 24 snaps against the Jets in Friday’s preseason opener. He has two catches for 41 yards. One reception was a catch and run for 32 yards from back-up quarterback Gardner Minshew.
“The way I came into camp, before the food poison? I feel like I’m not there yet,” Pascal said. “The fact that I’m getting back and I’m almost back and I’m able to do the things that I want to do [already], it will just get scarier.”
Pascal was asked if had regained the 16 pounds he had lost.
- “It’s tough but if you mentally lock in, if you mentally say to yourself, like yo, this is what I got to do in order to do this,” he said.
- “The focus that you put into that is going to go day by day. You hit the weight room, you hit your sprints, your conditioning … It probably took me two weeks to get my weight back, a week-and-a-half.”
“I’m excited with where he’s at,” wide receivers coach Aaron Moorehead told the Eagles’ website
“He fits right in with the group from a personality standpoint, from a competitive standpoint.
“The football stuff generally tends to take care of itself. Everybody’s got their role, and as you are moving forward and going into the last week of the preseason getting ready to play Detroit [the start of the regular season], those roles start to kind of iron out.”
A BIG SEASON?
Various players were asked the same question after practice Tuesday.
“If I had to choose one guy on the team who’s going to have a big season? Zach Pascal,” Pascal said with a hearty laugh.
“Because work ethic, the mindset, just the focus,” he said.
He has plenty of fans pulling for him.