For the past six years, Amy Mecca has been bringing Philadelphia Eagles fans to their feet, waving her pom-pom in front of 75,000 people as part of their cheerleader squad. But Mecca — and many of her fellow NFL cheerleaders — are more than just beautiful women. They are beautiful women with untapped reservoirs of football knowledge, blessed with insider access to teams and players, not to mention one of the best seats in the house come gameday.
In this first edition of Monday Morning Cheerleader (it will run here, and sometimes on Tuesday if there is a compelling Monday Night Football game), we talked to Mecca about Michael Vick’s debut with the team (“I think he’s just trying to prove that the rest of the league.”), how the loss of Brian Dawkins will affect Eagles vaunted D, and what his final position would be (“It’s kind of a steal-swing move. Everybody loves a good bomb. Shame on Ochocinco.”).
ESQUIRE: Before we get down to the football talk, let’s clear it up: What’s one of the biggest misconceptions people have about NFL cheerleaders?
AMY MECCA: People think that everything we do is fun, but I’m a full-time OR nurse specializing in orthopedic surgery – rotator cuffs, shoulder replacements. I have been in operation since 7 A.M. until the day before, sometimes 11 P.M. I am up to my elbows in blood every day.
ESQ: You must have an interesting perspective on player injuries.
AM: I have some understanding. I actually work with two of the Eagles team doctors. A few years ago, [offensive lineman] Todd Herremans had a meniscus tear, and I assisted in his surgery. So I’m an Eagles fan in more ways than one.
ESQ: Well, football time. With the loss of Brian Dawkins, the heart and soul of the Eagles D, along with starting linebacker Stewart Bradley, it looks like the Eagles have some holes to fill. Your review?
AM: Dawkins was one of the toughest players on the team — he got everyone fired up, so it’s sad to see him without an Eagles jersey. But it gives other defenders a chance to step into that role. Bradley’s season-ending injury was scary, but now we have a good battle for the middle linebacker spot. Joe Mays is doing great, and Omar Gaither is a real talent. In other words, we always burn at the right time. I am happy.
ESQ: Which Eagle design should we keep an eye on this year?
AM: Jeremy Maclin. With the ball in his hands, he’s dynamite. Once he gets used to being wrong, I think he’ll be great. Rookie receiver Brandon Gibson has had some good games in the preseason so far. Between DeSean Jackson and Maclin, as well as veterans Hank Baskett, Reggie Brown, and Kevin Curtis, McNabb has many options.
ESQ: Who wants to have a good season for the Eagles to play in February?
AM: Definitely Westbrook. He is one of the most electrifying running backs. When he is healthy, he will be important. McNabb, obviously. With McNabb, Westbrook, Jackson, our offense will be really good.
ESQ: What was your first thought when you heard the Eagles signed Michael Vick?
AM: When I first heard, I was shocked, but I was happy. He is a talented actor, such an actor. To have McNabb and Vick play together, other teams’ defensive coordinators will have no experience. I see him as very powerful. Our offensive coordinator is excited about all the things they will be able to do. He can’t control himself. It will be interesting to see how he uses them – in the wild or as a running back. I can’t wait to see it all go down.
ESQ: What was it like being on the field the first time Vick played as an Eagle?
AM: When I first came out, I thought, “Oh my god, the stadium is packed for a Thursday night preseason game.” Everyone was happy. What the crowd did was crazy. It was kind of surreal. You could see how happy Vick was. He had a big smile on his face. It was a great feeling, getting such a great response from the fans.
ESQ: What are your takeaways from his first game?
AM: I don’t think you can make too many judgments right now. The preseason, it’s time to try different things. I think it will be shown in the regular season what we can really do with McNabb and Vick at the same time. This was to get him back into the game. For all these ESPN guys to make assumptions, I think it’s kind of long right now. Speakers just need something to talk about. We’ll see in the regular season.
Amy Mecca graces the month of January in the Eagles cheerleaders’ eco-friendly new swimsuit calendar. For more information about the team and the calendar, click here.
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