Philadelphia Eagle Connor Barwin lends a hand funding South Philly playground makeover

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 Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin talks with kids at the Smith Playground in South Philadelphia. His foundation helped bring about the $3 million project. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin talks with kids at the Smith Playground in South Philadelphia. His foundation helped bring about the $3 million project. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

A Philadelphia Eagle is helping a South Philadelphia playground get a professional-quality playing field. 

Linebacker Connor Barwin knows the value of a good surface for football. That’s why he worked hard to make sure the Smith Playground in South Philadelphia will be outfitted with artificial turf field as part of an almost $3 million makeover of the facility.

At first, the plan called for a grass field.

“If you could have seen the look on the faces of the coaches when I told them that we were going to do a brand-new grass field with the best irrigation you have ever seen,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bigger look of disappointment in my life.”

So Barwin went back and talked to Mayor Michael Nutter, who said it’s tough to say no to the Eagle and Councilman Kenyatta Johnson.

“Can you imagine being double-teamed by Kenyatta Johnson and Connor Barwin?” the mayor said Monday during groundbreaking ceremonies for the playground improvements. “You know that’s not fair.”

Barwin said he’s glad Nutter and the city came up with the extra $600,000 to add the turf to the project.

What’s more, he said, he was glad to be part of the improvements at the playground.

“Maybe this is how I deal with our disappointing seasons the last two years,” he said. “You do something like this, and it makes you feel a little bit better.”

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