EDITOR’S NOTE: This short but sweet-natured 2014 Q&A with then-Eagle defensive end Connor Barwin ran in advance of one of his indie-rock fundraisers to fix up long-neglected playgrounds in depleted neighborhoods in North and West Philly. To mark the sad occasion of Barwin being released by the Eagles we present this reprise edition. Godspeed, Mr. Barwin. We will, on multiple levels, be poorer for your absence.
BY JONATHAN VALANIA If Eagles defensive end Connor Barwin did OK Cupid, it would read something like this:
Chiseled 27-year-old 6’4 260 lb Fred Flinstone-type with Cosmo Kramer haircut and biceps the size of Easter hams seeks kind-hearted, like-minded female companion to attend Eagles games and Animal Collective concerts and we’ll see where it goes from there. Interests: Forced fumbles, snapping quarterbacks in half, digging indie-rock shows at First Unitarian Church, making a difference.
When not blitzing quarterbacks or shutting down draw plays at The Linc, Barwin is a fixture at kid-tested/Pitchfork-approved shows around town. Tonight, Barwin’s Make The World Better Foundation hosts a fundraising concert at Union Transfer featuring Kurt Vile & The Violators [PICTURED, BELOW RIGHT], Houston-based indie-rockers The Ton Tons [PICTURED, BELOW LEFT] and Lancaster County’s much-buzzed-about The Districts [PICTURED, BOTTOM RIGHT]. The event will raise funds for renovating Ralph Brooks Park in South Philly to provide neighborhood kids with a safe space to participate in sports or the arts, Barwin’s two great passions. Quoth The Bard: So shines a good deed in a weary world. Charles Barkley may not be a role model, but Connor Barwin sure as hell is. May the road rise with him.
PHAWKER: So, last year you signed a $38 million dollar contract to play linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles, making you the only known professional athlete in this city to attend indie-rock shows at the First Unitarian Church. You have my vote for The Coolest Guy In Philadelphia.
CONNOR BARWIN Well, thank you. I signed a $36 million dollar deal, not a $38 million deal, but I appreciate you adding a couple million on there on the end.
PHAWKER: I just wanted to make you seem more impressive — $36 million is a little underwhelming, to be quite honest. Why don’t more Eagles go to rock shows in the basement of Unitarian Churches?
CONNOR BARWIN Well, it’s just a start. I’ve taken a couple to a few shows already and they loved it. There will probably be about ten guys at the Union Transfer this Friday and I am sure they are going to enjoy it as well.
PHAWKER: Awesome. Can you tell me the names of other Eagles that have gone with you to indie-rock shows in Philly?
CONNOR BARWIN [Jason] Kelce, Riley [Cooper], Will Murphy, and Bryan Braman have all been to the Church.
PHAWKER: Very cool. What is the best show you saw at First Unitarian?
CONNOR BARWIN I mean it’s kind of a tie between The Districts, they really were kind of amazing but I was able to see Future Islands there too which was really pretty cool as well.
PHAWKER: What are you currently digging music wise? What’s the last album that you bought that’s blowing your mind?
CONNOR BARWIN I don’t want to stay on this too long here, I mean honestly, it’s only, like, four songs, but The Districts EP is friggin awesome. So I have been listening to that a lot and Kurt Vile.
PHAWKER: Cool. So tell me about the Make The World Better Foundation. What is it and why do you do it?
CONNOR BARWIN We kind of believe that every kid should have the opportunity to have a safe area for sports as well as the arts. Everybody knows those are the two areas that gets the least amount of funding. So, that is where the help is needed. So I started the foundation last year. It’s called Make The World Better. It’s really an acronym for my parents name Margret Thomas William Barwin. It’s really just about giving back to those two areas. We are having our kick off this Friday at Union Transfer to raise to raise funds for fixing up Ralph Brooks Park in South Philly.
PHAWKER: Why did you pick Ralph Brooks Park to focus your attention on?
CONNOR BARWIN Well, first I saw the park while riding my bike. To rebuild a park, it takes a lot of work and a lot of planning. My foundation and I couldn’t at all do it by ourselves. I met some people down in South Philly, the councilman Kenyatta Johnson, the water department, Jeffery Thompson, Urban Roots. We have been working on this park and planning for over a year now and so I got involved I saw an opportunity to help kind of push it over the edge. After this show we were able to do that and hopefully by next year at this time there will be a ton of kids playing on it every single day.
PHAWKER: Last question, you will have to forgive me I haven’t kept up with the Eagles lineup in recent years. Is Roman Gabriel still the quarterback?
CONNOR BARWIN [laughs] That’s absolutely amazing that you just asked me that question.
PHAWKER: Why is that?
CONNOR BARWIN: Because I don’t even know who that is.
PHAWKER: He was the Eagles quarterback in, like, 1973.
CONNOR BARWIN [laughs] That was a joke right?
PHAWKER: Yeah, yeah. I’m just f*cking around. Listen man, that’s all the questions I have. My hat’s off to you, sir. You’re going to bat for the angels on this and I think it’s really cool too that you’ve tapped into the local music scene — it’s all around a very cool thing. Thanks for taking the time to do this.
CONNOR BARWIN Hey, I appreciate it man. Do you know what’s even cooler is that these bands who are playing at this venue are down with this man. They are all playing for free and donating everything and it wouldn’t work unless they did that. I don’t know if it’s much that I’m doing but all those guys. It’s like asking me to play football for free, which I don’t know if I would ever do that but these bands are doing that. I owe them a ton.