Eagles' Westbrook is ready to handle the tough questions

Posted: January 07, 2008

TAMPA - Brian Westbrook had a question for former Eagles teammate Jeff Garcia.

In another setting, he might have posed it less delicately, but this was the postgame corridor at Raymond James Stadium, and Westbrook was wearing a dark pinstriped suit with a white-and-pink striped shirt and a pink-patterned tie, holding a microphone with the NFL Network logo on it.

Let's just say, hypothetically, that in the press box at halftime, Westbrook might have joked with Philadelphia reporters about how it looked like Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden had let Eagles coach Andy Reid call the plays in the second quarter. That was when the Bucs abandoned their successful early approach of letting a strong running game set up passing success against a fierce Giants defense, instead trying to throw repeatedly in the face of pressure.

But Westbrook wasn't going to ask the question that way to Garcia, on camera, after a 24-14 playoff loss.

Instead, Westbrook went with, "Did you get away from what you were doing well early?" And the Bucs quarterback agreed that they had.

"The second quarter, too many three-and-outs," Garcia said. "Not moving the ball with the running game . . . the second quarter, we just couldn't seem to find that meshing point, couldn't seem to convert third downs."

All in a day's work for a Pro Bowl running back who is trying to expand his horizons. Westbrook said that when NFL Network approached his agent, Fletcher Smith, about doing some postgame interviewing in the postseason, he was intrigued.

"I'm just trying to see if I like this deal," Westbrook said from his press-box seat next to NFL Network cohort Scott Hanson, who once worked for Comcast SportsNet.

Westbrook has wondered, from time to time, about national media stature and how players obtain it. Obviously, going in front of the camera can't hurt.

"A lot of my focus has been so much on football," he said. "It hasn't allowed me to focus on anything else."

Westbrook said he sought advice from noted media maven Ike Reese, the former Eagles linebacker, who told him to keep the questions short and let the interviewee do the explaining. Westbrook seemed to be doing a good job of that in the Giants' and Bucs' locker rooms.

He said he and the NFL wanted to see how these sessions went before deciding about a continued role.

Birdseed

Eagles general manager Tom Heckert interviews today for the Atlanta Falcons' GM job. The buzz in NFL circles is that Heckert has a good chance of being hired to run Atlanta's football operations . . . The Ravens are expected to interview Eagles secondary coach John Harbaugh for their head-coaching job . . . If Jeremiah Trotter played at all for the Bucs yesterday, it was very briefly. The former Eagles Pro Bowler was activated but spent most of the game standing on the sideline next to Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, his helmet in his left hand . . .

As disappointed as Jeff Garcia was to exit the playoffs, he noted that it was nice to not have to pack everything up and be ready to head somewhere else, as he had to do last season with the Eagles, and the year before that in Detroit, and the year before that in Cleveland. Garcia signed a 2-year, $7 million free-agent contract with Tampa last offseason, and goes into 2008 as its presumed starter, though he turns 38 next month. *

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