PHILADELPHIA -- Zach Ertz watched the United States' opening game in the Women's World Cup on Tuesday at home with a jersey that said "Mr. Ertz" on the back and blue-starred shorts.
His teammates were in meetings at the team facility after their first practice of mandatory minicamp, but coach Doug Pederson sent Ertz home. Pederson excused Ertz so he could watch his wife, star defender Julie Ertz, realizing that the moment was more important than anything discussed in the offensive meeting rooms in June.
On Sunday, when the United States plays Chile, Zach Ertz will be in Paris. He was scheduled to fly to France on Friday to support his wife (and her teammates) for his summer vacation. He's not planning to come home anytime soon.
"The return flight is after the final," Ertz said.
Ertz is among the NFL's best tight ends, with his reputation in Philadelphia entrenched after he set an NFL record with 116 catches last season and caught the game-winning touchdown pass in the Super Bowl the year before. But he's just as comfortable being Julie Ertz's husband, a role he'll revel in during the World Cup.
It's also why Ertz is not shy about defending the U.S team, especially after criticism for running up the score in a 13-0 win over Thailand.
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Ertz first noted that the top tiebreaker for the group stage is goal differential.
"So it would be a crime for them to take their foot off the gas and then finish second in the group because they took their foot off the gas," Ertz said.
Then he mentioned that the best way to develop chemistry is to celebrate success together, referencing the group celebrations the 2017 Eagles created while scoring touchdowns on the way to the Super Bowl. He also knows how the excitement had been building for so long, he said, with the women training for four years, and how it was the first World Cup game for many of them.
Ertz traveled to Canada for the 2015 World Cup, so he's seasoned in watching high-stakes games. It doesn't make it easier, as long as it's not a 13-goal rout.