Eagles legend send strong warning  to Saquon Barkley  after giving Eagle legend  number 

Saquon Barkley’s former coaches, athletic director weigh in on news he’s heading to Philadelphia Eagles

Frustrated Giants RB Saquon Barkley doesn't rule out sitting out for 2023 season

Pa. – A local legend is heading home.

Whitehall’s Saquon Barkley is saying goodbye to the New York Giants and hello to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Reports say the Birds are paying big bucks to have Barley play at the Lincoln Financial Field: $37.75 million for a three-year deal.

The All-American’s alma mater couldn’t be more excited and prouder to have Barkley back in Pennsylvania.

Some of the coaches at Whitehall-Coplay tell 69 News they were a tad surprised, though, when they heard the news, mostly because other teams were rumored to be in the running for Barkley.

Not to mention, Barkley has ties to New York, too.

“His dad was a huge Giants fan,” explained Barkey’s former high school football coach Brian Gilbert. “When he went to the Giants, no one was surprised, and the only thing that would have been better for his dad is if he went to the Jets.”

Nevertheless, they are eager to see what the hometown kid brings to the Birds, in terms of his running game and his locker room mentality.

“It’s kind of the perfect storm for him. There’s so many Eagles fans in the area,” said Barkley’s former head basketball coach Jeff Jones.

“I’m not an Eagles fan. At all. I wasn’t a Giants fan, though, either,” explained Whitehall-Coplay Athletic Director Bob Hartman. “I was in New York a bunch of times to watch him play and support him, and even though I probably still won’t be an Eagles fan, I want him to do incredibly well.”

“I was happy not to have to wear my Giant’s sweatshirt anymore, because I am an Eagles fan,” laughed Gilbert. “Second, I can’t believe the Giants let him go to an NFC team.”

The Eagles aren’t only an NFC East team but one of the Giants’ rivals.

“About that contract,” said Gilbert. “They have a couple of key retirees with Kelce and Fletcher Cox, so they need another leader, someone that’s going to be an ambassador to the city.”

Outside of those key losses, D’Andre Swift has reportedly agreed to a deal with the Chicago Bears, which opens up the spot.

Gilbert says the Birds are not just gaining a good player but an overall leader.

Saquon Barkley - Football - Penn State Athletics

“He’s the first one to go over to a player when they make a mistake and tell him, ‘Pick up your head. Play the next snap,'” explained Gilbert.

He remembers how Barkley pushed to workout extra days and open the weight room on weekends.

“That was all on him,” he added. “I think the organization, and especially the offensive side of the ball, should really be licking their chops right now.”

When he wasn’t pushing his teammates on the field, Hartman says the All-American took on responsibility elsewhere.

“He actually babysat my kids when he was in high school,” said Hartman. “I actually texted my daughter because she’s a freshman at St. Joe’s University. I said basically, now, you can babysit for Saquon, instead of him babysitting.”

Saquon Barkley babysitting Whitehall-Coplay Athletic Director Bob Hartman’s kids

As a Zephyr, Barkley leaves behind a legacy of more than 3,600 rushing yards and 63 touchdowns.

At Penn State University, he became a three-time All-Big Ten selection and an All-American.

“He worked to get to where he is now,” Gilbert stressed. “He thought he was undersized when he really wasn’t, so he worked harder. He thought he was slow, and he wasn’t, so he worked to get faster.”

It’s that mentality that Gilbert says will help Barkley thrive in a city where fans support hard but criticize even harder if they see their stars as underperforming.

“He’s going to be harder on himself than the fans can ever be hard on him,” said the coach.

In Whitehall, charter buses would take fans to Penn State, so people could see Barkley play.

Gilbert says he’s confident that is going to happen again, except this time it will be to the Lincoln Financial Field.

They’re also excited to have him closer to home, where he still holds football camps for kids.

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