County native Toney keeps Philadelphia Eagles equipped and on time
Jun 14, 2012 (The Star - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Matthew Toney is one of the people who makes sure the Philadelphia Eagles stay on time and well-equipped.
The 24-year-old Cleveland County native has been working with the NFL franchise past few months as an equipment assistant.
Toney's typical day during organized team activities and mini-camps includes having pads, jerseys, cleats and helmets safe and ready for the players, plus keeping time at practice for coach Andy Reid.
His work usually begins at 6:30 a.m. and finishes between 5:30-6 p.m. Those hours will be even longer during the season.
"It's a lot of hours," Toney said. "But it's rewarding in the end."
The former Burns High kicker played at UNC for one season, then was equipment manager for his final three seasons with the Tar Heels.
But that was just the beginning of Toney's equipment managing.
He then took a one-year internship with the Jacksonville Jaguars before doing an Arena Football League season.
Next came a two-year stint with the University of Florida football team while working on his master's degree in sport management.
"I've been lucky," Toney said. "Every team I've worked for has been a great experience."
Aiming for the NFL
Toney's time with the Jaguars may have made the biggest impression. Before his work in Jacksonville, Fla., he had thought his equipment work would just be something he enjoyed in college.
"After that, it really opened my eyes to what you could get out of being an equipment manager," Toney said.
He also caught the Jaguars' eye and had an offer for a full-time job with the franchise at the end of his internship. But he opted instead to fulfill his lifelong goal of going to graduate school, giving him the chance to work with the Gators.
Toney knew it was a risk with only three or four equipment jobs serving each of the NFL's 32 teams. But as he was finishing up in Gainesville, Fla., his boss there recommended him to the Eagles. Within a few days, he had interviews on the phone and in Philadelphia, including getting to meet Reid.
Before leaving town, he found out he would be joining the Eagles' organization.
"My goal was to get back to the NFL somewhere," Toney said. "And I was blessed that this opportunity came open."
He's grateful for the support of all his previous employers and his family, especially his brother Andrew, who currently works as a student in equipment for UNC's football team. Getting to the NFL at a young age is both exciting and motivating for Toney.
"It's an added pressure for me to prove myself because I am younger," Toney said.
Cleveland County connections
Being a Tar Heel alumnus, Toney has been glad to connect with some of the former Miami and Virginia Tech players on the team. He has a feeling they'll have some friendly rivalry on Saturdays this fall.
"It's fun to interact with them because we'll definitely be watching those games when it comes time," Toney said.
But another bonus of working in Philadelphia has been working alongside defensive line coach Jim Washburn, a Shelby native and former Gardner-Webb player.
"That's been extremely fun to meet and interact with him," Toney said.
He can't help but marvel at having two Shelby natives in the same organization.
"We have had a big time talking about Shelby and being proud of where we've come from," Toney said.
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