Fiedler '94: a pro, Former Big Green quarterback now 3rd-stringer for Philadelphia Eagles
Jay Fiedler '94 fulfilled his childhood dream when he made the Philadelphia Eagles, becoming the first Dartmouth football player since Jeff Kemp '81 and David Shula '81 to make the National Football League.
Fiedler is now the third-string quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles. He was battling with second-year pro Preston Jones for the job and pretty much had the job locked up when the Eagles cut Jones on August 23.
"I first found out officially when final cuts were made" on August 28, Fiedler said in a telephone interview from Philadelphia, Penn. But he said he thought he had the job after Jones was cut.
After he found out the Eagles had cut Jones, Fiedler said "it felt like a dream come true." His phone was ringing off the hook the next few days as family, friends and former teammates called to congratulate him.
"I got calls from just about everyone I knew," he said. "It was like a ball rolling down hill."
The Eagles signed Fiedler as an un-drafted free agent after he slipped through the seven-round NFL draft in late April. He will make $108,000 this year and $134,000 next year if he makes the team again.
When Jones and Fiedler were still competing for the third-string quarterback job, Fiedler clearly had the leg up in early preseason action.
He played in two of the Eagles first three preseason games, completing 12 of 24 passes for 148 yards and no interceptions. He also tossed an acrobatic touchdown that was called back due to a penalty.
Jones played in only one of the three games, completing 6 of 13 passes for 50 yards and an interception.
Fielder's ability did not go unnoticed by the coaches. Eagles Coach Rich Kotite praised Fiedler's work in an article in the Valley News, saying Fiedler showed "a great deal of poise and arm strength in practices and in games."
Now Fiedler acts as the quarterback for the "scout" team, getting the Eagles defense ready for their next opponent by mimicking that team's quarterback.
"What I'm mostly doing in practice is running the scout team and staying on top of our offense mentally," he said. "I'm just making sure I'm ready in case I'm needed."
The Eagles starter is Randall Cunningham, who is coming off knee surgery last year. Their back-up is Bubby Brister, who also has a history of injuries. Fiedler said the coaches have not told him if he is going to get any playing time this season.
"I'm certainly hopeful," he said. "Being competitive, I don't want to take a second seat to anyone. All I know right now is that's my role on the team."
He said he hopes to learn as much as he possibly can this year "so in the future I can compete for a job somewhere."
While Fiedler opened this season on Philadelphia's football team, he started last season leading the Big Green against the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He laughed when asked to compare this year to last year.
"Well, it's tough to compare," he said. "We're playing in front of 60 to 70 thousand [fans] and it's the best football in the world -- its a different atmosphere."
The Eagles opponents in their first game of the season was their NFC East rivals, the New York Giants. Former Princeton University running back and Fiedler's arch-rival at Dartmouth Keith Elias is now playing for the Giants.
The Big Green beat Elias' Tigers all three years with Fiedler as quarterback, and Fiedler won the Ivy League Player of the Year his junior year while Elias won it last year.
Elias beat Fiedler for the first time as the Giants bested the Eagles, although neither rookie figured in the outcome. Fiedler said he spoke with Elias briefly after the game.
"Although we weren't the marquee players of the game like we have been in the past three years, it was fun to see him," he said.