Brett Kern was thrilled when the Eagles called Sunday because he finally had a job as an NFL punter again.
His son Bryce was thrilled also but for a different reason.
“He’s got Jalen as his (fantasy) quarterback so he was really excited when I told him I was coming here,” Kern said Wednesday before his first practice with the Eagles.
Stay in the game with the latest updates on your beloved Philadelphia sports teams! Sign up here for our All Access Daily newsletter.
The Eagles signed Kern, a three-time Pro Bowler with the Titans, after losing Arryn Siposs indefinitely. Kern is on the practice squad for now, and he can be a game-day elevation for three weeks. After that the Eagles will have to sign him to the 53-man roster if they want him to continue kicking.
Kern, 36, had been out of football since getting released by the Titans after a preseason battle with rookie Ryan Stonehouse.
“In my mind, I knew I was going to kick again,” Kern said. “I just didn’t know where or when, but I knew I still wanted to keep playing, so mentally I stayed ready, physically I stayed ready for whatever opportunity came, and I’m extremely thankful for this one.”
Word travels fast in NFL punting circles. When a punter gets hurt, every out-of-work punter hears about it within seconds.
“It’s usually pretty quick,” Kern said. “This year’s been really unique because the only punting change that’s happened has been New England. It’s been pretty quiet the rest of the year. I actually had the Titans game on (Sunday) because we didn’t have the Eagles-Giants (broadcast) and so my agent called me and told me (about Siposs’ injury).
“I immediately went to Twitter to find out what happened. … I got home from church, my agent called me, couldn’t really believe it, saw what happened, started packing my bags and now I’m here.”
One of the first things Kern did after signing with the Eagles was call Siposs, who’s been the Eagles’ punter the last two years.
“I was just trying to encourage him,” he said. “He made a heck of a play. To have a punt blocked that’s one thing, but to be able to pick it up and run and for that (injury) to happen? That stinks. So I was just trying to encourage him along through the process. You’re on a 12-1 team and all of a sudden your season gets cut short.”
Since the Titans released him in August, Kern has been home in Nashville trying to stick as closely to his in-season routine as possible.
“I was playing a lot of golf,” he said. “I was working out, just kind of staying in the routine of what I do during the week. I was kicking at a high school (Lipscomb Academy) once or twice a week. Couple workouts here and there, and I feel ready to go.”
Kern said the two biggest factors that convinced him to sign with the Eagles were the team’s 12-1 record and the chance to kick in a postseason and the connections he has here from his 12 years in Tennessee.
“The decision to come here was a no-brainer just because obviously the season y'all are having, familiarity with a lot of people on the staff and some players,” he said. “I know Jake (Elliott) and Rick (Lovato), so it’s a great opportunity and this was the best fit.”
Asked about those connections, Kern mentioned passing game coordinator Kevin Patullo, who was the Titans' assistant wide receivers coach in 2014; tight ends coach Jason Michael, who was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in Tennessee from 2014 through 2017; senior athletic trainer Jerome Reid, who was an assistant trainer with the Titans from 2014 through 2017; and even the Eagles’ masseuse, who also spent time with the Titans.
The connections between Kern and the Eagles also involve his dad and Nick Sirianni’s dad, who are friends. Kern is from Grand Island, N.Y., about 10 miles north of Buffalo, and Siriann's family is from Jamestown, about 70 miles south of Buffalo.
“His dad actually knows my dad really well, just from a Western New York connection,” he said. “So it’s great to come somewhere where you know faces and you’re kind of familiar with people. It makes it a little bit easier.”
One of the closest connections between Kern and the Eagles is A.J. Brown, his teammate the last three years with the Titans.
Kern was still a Titan when the Eagles acquired Brown, so he reacted the same way everybody else in Nashville did.
“When I found out A.J. got traded here I was genuinely sad, because he’s a great teammate, he’s a good friend, I had a lot of conversations in the locker room joking around with him,” he said.
“So to be able to come here and know A.J. was here was great. He kind of gave me the lay of the land, where to live, that kind of thing. He’s a great guy and I’m glad we’re teammates again.”
Subscribe to the Eagle Eye podcast