A few weeks before he got married, and more than a month before the start of training camp, Matt Barkley walked into a small room at the NovaCare Complex. It was June. Most of the other players had long since fled the area for various offseason activities, but Barkley and the rest of the rookies hung around the Eagles’ practice facility as part of their never-ending initiation into the NFL. Barkley had just finished a workout, and he was dressed casually – jeans, gray T-shirt, boat shoes with no socks. He pulled out a chair and sat down and crossed his legs. Except for the four bottles of water he brought along, and the two reporters who showed up to speak with him, Barkley was alone that day. It had to be a strange sensation – a moment of relative quiet for a guy who hasn’t had many in his life. Barkley has been something of a celebrity since before he could shave or drive. He was the starting quarterback as a freshman at Matter Dei, one of the most famous prep school football factories in the nation. He was 15. It was a remarkable feat made even more improbable by the fact that he hadn’t begun playing tackle football until he was 12. His mom wouldn’t allow it. She made him play soccer. That’s when the attention began. It hasn’t stopped since. He started at USC as a true freshman. California kid with California looks becomes starting signal caller at famous California university. How California cool. Fans mobbed him. Reporters mobbed him. In a town full of stars, he was one of the biggest – forever surrounded by cameras and microphones and autograph seekers and hangers-on and … And then Barkley landed in Philadelphia -- a football-mad city with an unshakable reputation for being tough on the Birds in general and the quarterbacks in particular. Pressure in high school. Pressure in college. More pressure in the pros. Right? Except, no, not really. Not for Barkley. Not yet. If room to breathe was previously a precious and hard-to-come-by commodity for Barkley, he’s suddenly found himself as un-fussed over as he’s been in a decade – and in Philly, of all places. “I think right now is the least amount of pressure I’ve had, to tell you the truth, and the least amount of attention,” Barkley said at the NovaCare Complex that day in June. “It’s been great. I don’t mind it either way. You just get used to it. But now, with how the whole draft turned out, it just allows me to not even worry about everything and just put my head down and work and focus and not be judged on everything you do … it’s the least amount of attention I’ve gotten in a while.” He would have gotten more publicity if he’d entered the NFL draft after his junior year in college. Barkley threw for 3,528 yards, 39 touchdowns and just seven interceptions that season. He completed 69.1 percent of his passes. He was projected to be the third quarterback taken after Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. Instead, Barkley passed on passing in the NFL. He stayed in school.
The pressure (or lack thereof) of being Barkley
CSN Philly | Jul 17