After a series of six calls, a voice mail, an e-mail exchange and two walks to the Mall of America's GameStop store, the Star Tribune can confirm: Philadelphia Eagles players do shop. What started as a quick item for Tuesday's paper manifested into a morning-long public relations tango with the popular video game retailer.
Anyway, sources say (the source being GameStop senior guest adviser Gabriel Oachs, who was an eyewitness) several Philadelphia Eagles players dropped in to GameStop around 5 p.m. Sunday to purchase some Xboxes after arriving at their team hotel, the Radisson Blu, around 4 p.m.
According to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Marc Farzetta, running backs Corey Clement, Kenjon Barner and Wendell Smallwood all frequented the store. The station also reported that defensive ends Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett as well as linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Nate Gerry also made stops at GameStop.
Farzetta surmised the running back pack was looking for distractions so they stayed out of trouble in this week leading up to the Super Bowl. Or maybe they were hoping to game plan virtually on the latest edition of Madden.
"That's what I'm doing right now," Graham told Farzetta on Sunday evening. "I'm going around, I'm honestly about to get an Xbox so I can get in the room and enjoy myself while I'm here and still have a little fun like I'm back at home."
Apparently, Xboxes don't travel well? So they all just … buy new ones for every extended trip?
Well, for a four-year, $26 million contract like Graham has, a $300 gaming system doesn't seem so steep.
There were convocations of Eagles all around the mall Sunday, with many players Instagramming their new environment. But as far as social media can tell, they went mostly undetected by fans or other shoppers.
Oachs said the store was pretty busy at the time the players came in, and he didn't notice any fans following them. In fact, no one really knew the players.
"I'm not a huge football guy, so I didn't recognize them when they came in," Oachs said. "But I do remember one of the other employees here who was helping them, I remember them talking about, 'Oh, are you guys excited to see the Super Bowl? Like, are you guys here for it?' And all I remember is them saying, 'Yeah, we're excited. We're going to be playing in it.' So I just thought that was really funny."
And despite all those reports of Philadelphia's fans being less than friendly, the players themselves impressed at least one Minnesotan.
"They were so nice. They were laughing," Oachs said. "It was a ton of fun. They're cool guys. I like them."