Wisniewski helps bring Philadelphia its first Super Bowl trophy

The Philadelphia Eagles were underdogs in both of their playoff games, and were underdogs when they faced the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

Penn State and Schreyer Honors College alumnus Stefen Wisniewski, the team's starting left guard, understands why — the Eagles lost starting quarterback Carson Wentz to a season-ending knee injury in Week 14's win over the Los Angeles Rams.

But a team that already had to replace several injured starters, including left tackle Jason Peters, linebacker Jordan Hicks, running back Darren Sproles, hasn't stopped winning, and Wisniewski thinks it can deliver one more win on the sport's grandest stage.

"It's really been pretty amazing to be part of this group that really just didn't care who got hurt all year," Wisniewski said. "We didn't change our goals, didn't change our attitude, didn't change our belief in ourselves. It was just an unbelievable job of perseverance by the whole team and an unbelievable job of guys who went from not playing at all to playing huge roles. It says a lot about the character and work ethic of this team and its belief in itself."

Wisniewski, who graduated with a degree in secondary education from Penn State in 2010 and was a three-time Academic All-American, played his first four professional seasons with the Oakland Raiders, who selected him in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. After one season with the Jacksonville Jaguars, he decided to sign with the Eagles in April 2016. He started only six of 16 games that season and was a reserve at the outset of this season before replacing Isaac Seumalo in the starting lineup in the fourth game.

"I definitely came here to be a starter and that didn't look like it was going to happen, even through training camp and the first few weeks of the season," said Wisniewski, who missed two games himself late in the season with an ankle injury. "It was definitely a challenge for me. I think my faith in Christ really helped me to just stay patient and see the bigger picture, and just not doubt my abilities."

With Wisniewski in the lineup, Philadelphia's offense clicked into another gear, finishing seventh in the league in total yardage and third in scoring, despite Wentz missing the final three games of the regular season. The Eagles lit up the league's top-ranked defense in last week's 38-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game, allowing Wisniewski to become the first member of his family to reach the Super Bowl.

Leo Wisniewski, Stefen's father and also a Penn State graduate, never made the playoffs in three seasons as a defensive lineman with the Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts. Steve Wisniewski, Stefen's uncle, a Penn State All-American and an All-Pro offensive lineman, fell two games short of the Super Bowl in 2001, his final season, when his Oakland Raiders were defeated by Tom Brady and the Patriots in a controversial game in Foxborough.

"It's actually pretty hard to be the first Wisniewski to do something," Wisniewski said, laughing. "Those guys have done a lot of really impressive things in football before me."

Wisniewski and his wife, Schreyer Scholar Alumna Hilary Ford Wisniewski — who graduated with degrees in economics and international and global studies in 2013 — have enjoyed their return to their native Pennsylvania and have made it a habit to visit Penn State whenever they can. Wisniewski will often train in State College during the offseason, and reflects fondly on his time as a scholar-athlete.

"It gave me a chance to get an elite education that Schreyer offered but still go to a school that was truly a big-time football school," he said. "That was always my goal with education, was to get a truly top-notch education and to play football at the highest level. Schreyer allowed me to do that and allowed me to meet a lot of really smart students and faculty.

"I enjoyed every minute of it."

Last Updated February 20, 2018