He started the season as an undrafted rookie dreaming of such an opportunity. Today, Toronto native Mike Labinjo could have a significant impact in helping the Philadelphia Eagles win the NFC Championship.
The former star running back at St. Michael's high school is a reserve linebacker for the Eagles and should see more than just special teams duty against the Atlanta Falcons.
After a solid showing in two meaningless late-season games, Labinjo has been elevated to No. 2 on the depth chart at middle linebacker behind all-pro Jeremiah Trotter.
It's a huge progression for Labinjo, who spent most of the season on the Philadelphia practise roster.
The Eagles are expected to rotate several defenders into the lineup in an effort to keep fresh while chasing down Falcons quarterback Michael Vick.
The Falcons are attempting to become the third different NFC South team to defeat the Eagles in the NFC Championship in the past three years.
The Carolina Panthers did it last year, winning 14-3 at the Linc while the Tampa Bay Bucs won 27-3 in the final game played at old Veteran's Stadium.
LET IT SNOW
Though a blizzard hit Philadelphia yesterday dumping close to a foot of snow on the city, the storm is expected to ease this morning. After that, temperatures are expected to dip to -5C with a wind chill.
The weather has prompted oddsmakers to drop the over/under total from 41 to as low as 37 points.
With snow-socked Pennsylvania the focus of the football world today, it marks the first time both championship games are being held in the same state. Pennsylvania could become the second state with opposing teams in the Bowl. San Diego and San Francisco met in Super Bowl XXIX.