For these 2 Eagles, FCS semifinal between Delaware, South Dakota State has special meaning
The Eagles will be the NFL epicenter of the NCAA Division I FCS semifinals on Saturday because they are the only NFL team with alums from both Delaware and South Dakota State.
Those two schools will be opposing each other in one of the semifinal games on Saturday. The other game features James Madison against Sam Houston State.
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There's no word of whether either player has a wager going with the other, but it's very possible that they do. Neither player returned a message seeking comment.
In the past, Goedert and former Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz would have wagers when the Jackrabbits and North Dakota State – Wentz's alma mater – played against each other.
Back in 2019, after South Dakota State lost to the Bison, Goedert presented Wentz with an oversized $1,000 check made out to the North Dakota State football program that Wentz displayed above his locker. When the two schools played in 2018, Goedert had to wear North Dakota State gear after the Bison won that game.
But these occurrences are somewhat rare mainly because there aren't many FCS players in the NFL.
For the 2020 NFL opener, there were 141 FCS players out of 1,696 on active NFL rosters. There were another 66 players on practice squads out of 512. All 32 NFL teams had at least one FCS player.
James Madison had the most players on 53-man active rosters with seven, followed by Delaware, Harvard, North Dakota State and South Carolina State with six each.
South Dakota State had one on an active roster in Goedert and another on Washington's practice squad in cornerback Jordan Brown.
But the Jackrabbits have famous alums in kicker Adam Vinatieri, who had a 24-year NFL career that lasted from 1996 through 2019 with the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts.
They also have someone well known among Eagles fans in tight end Pete Retzlaff, who played for the team from 1956-66. During his 11 seasons, Retzlaff made the Pro Bowl five times. He ranks second in team history in receiving yards (7,412) and third in receptions (452).
The Eagles retired Retzlaff's No. 44, and he's in the team's Hall of Fame. Retzlaff also served as the team's general manager from 1969-72.
In all, 30 players from South Dakota State have played in the NFL, the same amount as Delaware.
Goedert, the Eagles' second-round draft pick in 2018, is entering his fourth season. He has 137 receptions for 1,465 yards and 12 touchdowns. He's expected to be the Eagles' leading tight end this season with Zach Ertz likely to either get traded or released.
The current NFL players from UD are Flacco, Chargers safety Nasir Adderley, Rams linebacker Troy Reeder, Bears defensive tackle Bilal Nichols, Ravens tight end Nick Boyle and Panthers defensive tackle Zach Kerr.
Flacco, who signed with the Eagles as a free agent in March, is easily the most famous of the Blue Hens alums. Flacco was selected in the first round of the he 2008 draft by the Baltimore Ravens. He's entering his 14th NFL season, and he ranks 19th in NFL history in passing yards with 40,931.
Flacco was the MVP of the Super Bowl in 2012-13, when he led the Ravens past the San Francisco 49ers.
But UD has had other famous NFL alums. Rich Gannon was the NFL's MVP in 2002 with the Oakland Raiders, whom he led them to the Super Bowl that season. And defensive back Mike Adams had a 16-year career from 2004-19.
Both Flacco and Goedert have played in the FCS playoffs with their respective schools.
Flacco led the Hens to the championship game in 2007, where they lost to Appalachian State. That was Flacco's only time in the postseason, but he did set 20 school records in his two seasons at UD.
South Dakota State reached the playoffs in all four of Goedert's seasons, getting as far as the semifinals in his senior season in 2017. Goedert holds the school record for receptions in a season with 92 his senior year.
Both players are long gone from their schools. For them, bragging rights are on the line.
Contact Martin Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.