Philadelphia Eagles: Losing Cameron Johnston would stink for the PSPCA

(Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images)
(Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images) /

Is there a player on any football team less popular than the punter?

Yes, actually, I figure typical non-Philadelphia Eagles fanbases aren’t usually all that connected to their long snappers, but I imagine punters come in as a close second.

Despite technically being starters, punters are never on the field for more than 150 odd snaps a season and are often booed when they take the field because it means their team’s offensive drive stalled out without putting any points on the board.

Still, having a good punter is a luxury not every team in the NFL possesses, and unfortunately, the Eagles now fall into that category, as they opted against extending an exclusive rights tender to their long-time ball booter Cameron Johnston due to salary cap constraints, making the Australian OSU product an unrestricted free agent heading into free agency.

But do you know who the real loser of this situation is? That would be the Pennsylvania Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, as they just lost one of their most front-facing supporters.

Who is to say the Philadelphia Eagles’ next punter will be a dog lover?

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There’s a long and healthy history of Philadelphia athletes showing an affinity for man’s four-legged friend.

From Carson Wentz to Ben Simmons, Claude Giroux, and, most notably of all, Franklin the mascot, Philly couldn’t love dogs more if one of the city’s storied teams was named after the Canis Genus a la Boston University.

And for a few big-hearted puck/ballers, that love extenders further than just the fluffier members of their own families.

Case and point, Cameron Johnston, who, after adopting a beautiful lab by the name of Bella from the PSPCA, decided to partner up with the organization for a wonderful promotion to help other puppies in need. Dubbed “Punts for PSPCA,” any time Johnston downed a punt inside the 20, he would pay for the adoption fees for a puppy in the PSPCA’s care in need of a second chance, most of which were long-timers who’d been at the network’s shelter for an extended period of time.

Pretty cool, right? But how often does a punter actually down a ball inside the 20? A few times a season? Try 26.

Fortunately for the PSPCA, Johnston ranked sixth in the NFL in punts downed inside the 20 and finished within the top-15 in both average and net yards per punt, so it’s safe to say the organization banked on the right player to secure homes for a lot of good boys and girls.

But now, assuming Johnston signs elsewhere, the PSPCA’s very successful maiden program may not see a second season.

While some will shrug their shoulders and see no difference between Johnston or any other punter available at the end of the 2021 NFL Draft, the 29-year-old has unquestionably entrenched himself into the fabric of the City of Brotherly Love, and that impact will last far longer than his football playing career – which is saying something when you consider punters can play, like, forever.

26 families got a new member thanks to Johnston, and the corresponding connections those puppies foster will impact more people than he will ever know.

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So Cam Johnston, if Week 17 really marks your final appearance in a midnight green uniform, thank you for everything you’ve done for our fair city both on and off the field. You’ve represented the Philadelphia Eagles as well as anyone ever, and I will genuinely miss seeing which dogs had their adoption fees waived thanks to your pension for perfectly placed punts. If that, and those dogs, are your legacy, I’d say you’ve left behind one of the best. And hey, at least the PSPCA still has Scott Kingery, who is a similarly vocal supporter.