Eagles blog

Eagles Q&A: Tanner McKee's surprising ability? Speaking Portuguese

In his latest locker room Q&A, Dave Zangaro chats with rookie quarterback Tanner McKee, who is surprisingly good at speaking Portuguese.

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Each week during the 2023 season we’re going through the Eagles media guide to find an interesting nugget.

The Eagles’ PR interns do a great job filling out these little oddities in the media guide and they serve as a good way to meet the players behind the helmets.

This week, we chatted with rookie quarterback Tanner McKee, who says he’s surprisingly good at speaking Portuguese. (McKee before his Stanford career began spent 21 months on a mission trip for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Curitiba, Brazil.)

Me: Are people surprised to find that out about you?

McKee: Yeah, I would say so. It’s always super fun to be able to use it. It’s kind of hard to find people who speak Portuguese. I feel like at Stanford it was a little more common. But it’s been great. One of our massage therapists actually did the same thing I did, served a mission in Brazil. I had no idea. So the first day she saw me, she came up and was like, ‘Oi Bom dia, tudo bem, como vai?’ I was like, ‘Whoah, that’s sick!’ So it’s been fun just to mix it in.

Translation of above (Thanks, Google): ‘Hi, good morning. How are you?’

Me: How tough is it to keep up with it when you’re not using it?

McKee: I would say it’s pretty tough. I would say now with social media, it’s great because I can keep in contact with people from Brazil. Try to listen to podcasts and news more honestly for language than for news purposes. I just try to keep up with little things that I do.

Me: Do you keep in contact with people you met down there?

McKee: I do, which is great. Just people through Instagram or WhatsApp. I can obviously use the Portuguese. And a lot of times they want to speak English, I want to respond in Portuguese. But it’s been good.

Me: As you look back at that experience, how much did that change your life?

McKee: Overall, it was a great experience, just diving into a completely new culture, being surrounded by great people, learning a new language. There’s obviously a lot of challenges living in a new country. And then I’ve always said, being a quarterback, you have a bunch of guys from different backgrounds, a bunch of different cultures and they’re coming together for one purpose. Honestly, that was a huge thing we did as missionaries. People from a bunch of different cultures, different from my own. And bringing them together for one purpose. I feel like there’s a lot of correlation with serving a mission and being a quarterback.

Me: When you got there were there a lot of English speakers or were you just in the deep end?

McKee: There wasn’t. So as a missionary, you always have a companion that you’re with. The guy that I started with didn’t speak any English. So the first couple months were pretty tough, walking around with an English-Portuguese dictionary and trying to show words and stuff. But it was a great experience. Helped me learn definitely a lot faster and so it was a great experience. A lot of times, those guys want to learn English so you kind of teach them little words and it’s pretty fun.

Me: Did you try to study a little bit before you got there?

McKee: I tried to. I wouldn’t say anything really prepares you until you’re really there. I could say, ‘Hey, my name’s Tanner.’ I could say, ‘How ya doing?’ But as far as real dialogue and having a real conversation with people, I don’t really know much that you can do to prepare yourself.

Me: I know Spanish is Spain is a little different than Mexico or Latin America. Is that the same with Portuguese? Is it different in Europe than Brazil?

McKee: Very much so. So when I was in Brazil, there was a guy from Portugal who came and was doing missionary work as well. And it sounded very formal, which was interesting. Yeah, I would say it’s pretty different. Even the accent is different so it’s very easy to distinguish someone that’s from Portugal because they’re speaking really formal and the accent’s a little different. But it’s the same language.

Me: If you had to rate your Portuguese right now, where would you say it is?

McKee: Right now … I’d say it’s still pretty good. I’d say about an 8.

Me: That’s pretty good.

McKee: Yeah, I feel pretty confident that I can do some things. I did an internship when I was back at Stanford and I was under the food industry and they made me check out all the foods in Brazil and things like that. So I got to read and use the Portuguese in a work environment. So I would say I feel pretty confident with it.

Me: Thank you, man. I appreciate it.

McKee: Awesome. Thank you. 

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