Thomason replaces Eagles tight end Lewis

Updated: January 27, 2005, 5:28 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

PHILADELPHIA -- Jeff Thomason put down his hard hat, grabbed a helmet and joined the NFC champions.

The veteran tight end is going to the Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles after being out of the NFL the last two seasons.

"It's incredible. I'm probably the luckiest guy in the world," Thomason said Tuesday after he signed with the Eagles to replace injured tight end Chad Lewis, a three-time Pro Bowl selection.

Lewis, who hurt his foot on the second of his two touchdown catches in Philadelphia's 27-10 victory over Atlanta in the NFC title game, was put on injured reserve to make roster space.

Thomason was working an assistant project manager for Toll Brothers construction company in New Jersey when the Eagles called Monday. Lewis actually made the first call, telling Thomason he was recommending him as a replacement.

"That just shows how unselfish Chad is to be thinking about me at that time," said Thomason, who also said he kept in shape by competing in triathlons.

Eight-time Pro Bowl tight end Shannon Sharpe, who retired last year after 14 seasons in the NFL, said on his radio show that he would've considered playing for the Eagles in the Super Bowl.

"What would happen if I went out there, played, and was the Super Bowl MVP? That wouldn't be fair, I didn't go through training camp," said Sharpe, who won Super Bowls with Denver and Baltimore.

This will be Thomason's third trip to the Super Bowl. He went twice with the Packers when Eagles coach Andy Reid was an assistant under Mike Holmgren.

Although Toll Brothers told ESPN's Sal Paolantonio that Thomason would be on a two-week leave of absence, Thomason said he's using his two weeks of vacation to moonlight as a football player.

"When I get back, I'll have to work a year straight without vacation," he said. "I'll probably make more during vacation than my annual salary. Now I know how hard it is to earn a buck in the real world. I worked a lot of hours."

Thomason spent three seasons with the Eagles but hasn't played since 2002. Seven of his 25 catches with Philadelphia were touchdowns.

Second-year pro L.J. Smith will take Lewis' starting spot against the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl on Feb. 6. Seldom-used Mike Bartrum is the Eagles' other tight end, but he'll likely remain third-string because he's most valuable as a long snapper and the Eagles are reluctant to risk his getting injured in the game.

"I've been in this offense 10 years, so I know it very well," Thomason said, referring to the West Coast offense. "Little things like formations have changed, but it shouldn't be too hard to grasp."

Thomason began his career with Cincinnati in 1992 and played five seasons in Green Bay, before coming to Philadelphia in 2000. He has 67 receptions for 650 yards and 10 TDs in 10 seasons.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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