Will Beatty has been down this road before.
The York High graduate is so close to playing on the NFL’s biggest stage he can probably taste it.
For the second time in his NFL career, however, the mammoth offensive tackle will almost certainly have to watch Sunday’s Super Bowl just like the rest of us — as a spectator.
Beatty is on the Philadelphia Eagles’ Super Bowl roster. That news may have slipped under the radar for many York County sports fans. There’s a good reason for that. The 6-foot, 6-inch, 319-pound Beatty has seen precious little game action since the Eagles signed him back in mid-November to a one-year contract.
Before that, it looked like Beatty’s long and productive NFL career might be over. The former New York Giant had not logged an NFL start since the 2014 season after suffering a torn pectoral muscle and a torn rotator cuff in 2015.
Still, the Eagles apparently liked what they saw from Beatty a few months back. He had reportedly put his injuries behind him and was healthy and ready to play. The Eagles, meanwhile, desperately needed help on the offensive line after losing All-Pro Jason Peters for the season with a knee injury.
Experienced option: The 32-year-old Beatty offered Philly an experienced option. During his Giants career, which started in 2009 after being drafted in the second round by New York out of UConn, Beatty played in 88 NFL games, including 63 starts.
He was helped along the way by a pair of coaches with local ties. Susquehannock grad Randy Edsall was his head coach at UConn and Delone Catholic grad Pat Flaherty was his offensive line coach with the Giants.
They helped him develop into a solid NFL performer. That experience made him a good match with the Eagles.
“I’ve been around the league for a while,” Beatty told Philly.com when he signed. “I still feel young. I still feel there’s a lot I can contribute. I’ve had years going up against great defenses.”
Little game action: Unfortunately for Beatty, since his arrival in Philadelphia, he’s only played in one game — the Eagles’ meaningless, season-ending 6-0 loss to Dallas. Beatty was on the field for 40 snaps in that contest while many of the team's starters got rested.
Otherwise, on game day, Beatty has been a fan rooting for the Eagles as they soared all the way to the Super Bowl.
Sunday night, barring an unforeseen major injury to one of the Eagles’ offensive tackles who are ahead of him on the depth chart, Beatty will likely again be ruled inactive against the Patriots — just as he was in the Eagles’ NFC playoff wins over the Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings.
Familiar territory: For Beatty, it's familiar territory.
In 2011, Beatty started the first 10 games of the season for the Giants before suffering a season-ending detached retina. He could only watch as his teammates pulled off one the great upsets in Super Bowl history, beating the heavily-favored New England Patriots 21-17 on Feb. 5, 2012.
Now, on Feb. 4, 2018, Beatty’s current teammates have the opportunity to pull off a similar upset against the Patriots.
Again, Beatty will almost certainly be a spectator. That’s too bad for the former Bearcat standout. He would certainly rather be playing.
“A player, you want to play,” Beatty told Philly.com recently. “Coaches want to coach, players want to play. Not being able to play because of the injury (in 2011) was really tough. (The Super Bowl victory) was a bittersweet moment. Yeah, I started the season, I contributed, and we all (were part of it), but (I was) not in the game. As a player, you want to do more. You want to have that feeling.”
Beatty will almost certainly miss out on “that feeling” again this season.
Making a contribution: That doesn’t mean, however, that he isn’t making a contribution for the Eagles. He’s certainly helping the Eagles prepare for the big game during practice.
“If me contributing in practice is where I’m at, because of the depth chart, that’s still more than I got to do at the end the last time,” Beatty told Philly.com.
Beatty is also one of just a few Eagles with a Super Bowl ring, so he can provide his teammates with some much-needed perspective on what it takes to win an NFL championship.
It’s certainly not the role the Beatty desires. He’d rather be on the field.
Not a bad option: Still, getting to enjoy the Super Bowl experience for a second time in his NFL career, even in a non-playing role, isn’t a bad option.
Especially for a player who didn’t even have an NFL job just a few months ago.
Steve Heiser is sports editor for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.