Carol Wilson always loved the flea-flicker.
In her thirty years as an executive assistant for the Philadelphia Eagles coaching staff, she developed an affinity for the play that was never satiated – until the 2018 NFC Championship game between the Eagles and Minnesota Vikings.
But by that time, Wilson was no longer with the team. She was a 2014 casualty of Chip Kelly’s second year as general manager.
“The reason I was given was that Chip thought my job was no longer needed,” Wilson told Yahoo Sports. “It was very emotional for me. It was very difficult. I had no idea it was coming, so it was hard.”
Before she was let go, Wilson worked closely from 2009-2012 with then-assistant coach Doug Pederson and head coach Andy Reid to decipher and type-up handwritten game plans. In the “specials” section of the game plan sheet, she would always look for her favorite play.
“Every week I would say to them, ‘Oh, I don’t see the flea-flicker in the specials,’ because it was just a play that I loved, and they would all laugh at me,” she said. “Some weeks they would put it in just to amuse me, but they would never call it. So it was an ongoing joke with us.”
Three years after his departure, Pederson returned to the Eagles as head coach. Two years after that, he found himself playing for the NFC title, and Wilson was, of course, keeping tabs from home.
“I texted him just to wish him luck, and I said to him: ‘The only advice I have for you: flea-flicker,’ ” Wilson recalled, to which Pederson responded, ‘It’s actually in the game plan this week, now all I have to do is call it.’ “
And the rest is history.
Pederson called the flea-flicker, Torrey Smith caught it for a touchdown, the Eagles went on to rout the Vikings 38-7, and went on to win Super Bowl LII.
“After the touchdown, [executive VP] Howie Roseman texted me during the game and said, ‘That one was for you.’ So it was really special to me, because it make me feel like I was still a part of the team and knew what was going on,” said Wilson.
Clearly, the Eagles felt the same way. In a January Sports Illustrated feature, Pederson paid homage to Wilson’s love:
“So the game comes, and I called it in the game at the right time, and I was thinking, ‘I hope Carol’s watching right now.’ There was Carol Wilson pressure! And we hit on it,” Pederson said. “Right after the game, I look at my phone. She sent congratulations. She was so happy we called the play. She gave me the thumbs-up emoji. That was cool. That was cool. I am so happy we got her favorite play in the game—and it worked.”
So, when it came time to award the 2018 rings, one had to go to Wilson.
In April, when Wilson received an email from Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie’s assistant, she thought it was a mistake.
“I emailed her back saying ‘Hey it’s great to hear from you, but I think you sent this to me in error,’ because I did truly think it was sent to me by mistake,” Wilson said. “And she emailed me back and said ‘No it’s not by mistake, we would like to get your ring size.’ I was shocked and honored and humbled.”
Fast forward to June 14, and she found herself at the Eagles’ ring ceremony as one of only four honorees not currently affiliated with the team. The others were Leo Carlin and Susan Gorman, both retired members of the ticketing department, and Mike Dougherty, a retired video director.
She spent the night reminiscing with former players from her tenure that she now considers friends, including Mike Quick, Harold Charmichael, Duce Staley, and Nick Foles (who also was removed from the organization during the Kelly era).
So my aunt works for the eagles for three decades as the head coach’s secretary.
Chip Kelly fires her.
The Eagles win the super bowl.
I get the below text messages last night.
I’ve never loved and organization more. pic.twitter.com/YaeMrl6TI1
— Brianna (@briannawrist) June 15, 2018
“You work in the NFL and you spend more time with those people than you do with your family during the season,” said Wilson, who used to work from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. five-and-a-half days a week during the season, with only game days fully off. “It was a great night. First class all the way.”
Part of the thrill of receiving the ring came from revealing it to her 50-plus family members, only a few of whom knew the award was coming.
“They were all crying and thrilled, because they’ve been through the whole thing with me, working there – I had nephews that were ballboys and nieces and nephews that went to games with me,” Wilson said. “And they felt the heartache when I was heartbroken about being let go. It was a full-circle thing.
“I get more joy out of seeing the joy in them watching it, probably,” she added. “So it’s a family affair.”