The ordeal (and tragedy) of 2020 Eagles star Travis Fulgham

It feels like forever ago, but the Philadelphia Eagles’ 2020 season really happened. There was about 30 minutes of continuous, non-terrible, non-painful and non-tirade-inducing football. Unfortunately, it ended after the first 30 minutes of the entire season.

Also, unfortunately we have to look at scraps of good things that happen in bad times because it’s mentally healthy or whatever. It’s not a fun thing to do because you’d rather just focus on the bad stuff, shove it all down deep, and then either bring it up with a therapist in 20 years or just wait and angrily rant about it to your deathbed.

But alas, here we are, trying to improve ourselves so we can be functioning human beings. Let’s take a look at one of the stars of the Eagles’ 2020 season, Travis Fulgham.

Our current world has two spring football leagues, the XFL and the USFL. A lot of guys on these teams are draft picks and/or career practice squads. That’s sort of where Fulgham’s career was headed.

A former Old Dominion (ODU) standout and sixth-round pick by the Lions in 2019, he signed a rookie contract, was waived, re-signed to their practice squad, was promoted to the active roster, played three games, was waived again, was picked up by the Packers, then waived nine days later. All of this happened from April 27, 2019 to August 19, 2020. That’s one hell of a year for a guy in his mid-20s to endure.

Then on August 25, 2020, the Philadelphia Eagles claimed Fulgham off waivers. Cool, he’s on the team now, right? Wrong. He was waived again and re-signed to their practice squad.

The point here is that our guy absolutely went through it. This is something that is not entirely uncommon for players to go through. These lesser known guys are being passed around from team to team the same way wedding parties passed around bottles of Fireball with Go Pros attached to them in 2014. It’s pretty crazy.

Okay, so now Fulgham is on the team. Fast forward to Week 4, when he got his first opportunity to play. It was largely due to one absolutely DECIMATED the Eagles’ receiving corps. You had Alshon Jeffery, Jalen Reagor (he won’t capitalize), Quez Watkins, JJAW, DeSean Jackson and Dallas Goedert all out with injuries. What did the Eagles have to lose by dumping this random guy they just signed? It turns out nothing. And guess what? Boom. Fulgham finished with 57 yards and a touchdown. Not bad for someone no one has heard of.

Then in Week 5 he exploded for 152 yards and a touchdown. In Week 6… 75 yards and a touchdown. Week 7… 73 yards. Week 8.. 73 yards and a touchdown. During that stretch, he tallied 44 receptions for 435 yards and four TDs. He was dominant.

He was patient with his route. He created good separation. He went up for the ball and he was physical after the catch. He was so popular that his jersey was in the top 20% of jerseys sold. And then he just disappeared… he disappeared.

The Eagles had their bye in Week 9, and that’s when things changed. The starters in the receiving corps began to return. Jeffery, Reagor, Jackson and Goeddert came from IR. The Eagles drew one Toy Story and told Fulgham that they would not play with him any more. For the rest of the season, Fulgham hauled in just 23 receptions for 104 yards.

It was gut-wrenching to see a guy step up the way Fulgham did, only to be ignored. He went from being targeted about nine times per match to be targeted about three times per match. It also didn’t help that he had some issues with falls. In the two weeks following the bye (weeks 10 and 11), Fulgham was targeted 13 times and recorded just two receptions for a total of 16 yards.

The season ended in the pathetic fashion that it did, and Fulgham was the team’s leading receiver with 539 yards and four touchdowns, yet his time with the Eagles ended. That offseason, he was waived by the team, briefly re-signed to the practice squad, and then ultimately released on October 11, 2021. Some people say that his release had to do with the issues he had in the 2020 season, and that these issues continued into 2021 training camp, but we may never know for sure.

Since then, he has become something of a journeyman, stopping to join the practice squads of the Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos and again the Green Bay Packers. His contract with them has since expired, and now he’s a 27-year-old free agent floating around in the ether.

And that’s where we are now with Travis Fulgham. It wouldn’t necessarily be surprising if we saw him again in the NFL, but there’s certainly a decent chance he finds himself on the roster in one of the spring football leagues. Wherever you are Travis, thank you for being a star, albeit a light that burned quickly, but a star in dark times nonetheless.

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