Last November, Philadelphia Eagles outside linebacker Connor Barwin fell on our radar after ESPN profiled him about his love of riding bikes. If you’re unfamiliar with Barwin, the Eagles signed him to a six-year, $40 million contract in March 2013. Despite that flashy paycheck, Number 98 is a humble, salt-of-the-earth kind of guy: Instead of taking a car, he regularly rides a bike to work at the Sports Complex in South Philly. He contributed at least $85,000 for major renovations to Ralph Brooks Park in South Philadelphia, which was unveiled at the beginning of September. The son of a city manager, he loves SEPTA’s subway system, fresh vegetables, local charity work, and live music. Like Baltimore’s John Urschel, Barwin defies many NFL player stereotypes.
“I own plenty of bikes. But I’ve never rode one of these new Indego bikes,” Connor tells me on the phone Monday morning. Appropriately, Barwin is the spokesperson for Capital One’s Indego bike share program in Philly, which launched five months ago with dozens of active stations all across Philadelphia. In just a few months, Indego had over 280,000 rides. By all means, it’s a tremendous civic success for the City of Philadelphia.
I was invited to ride down Broad Street to The Linc with Barwin this past Monday, but unfortunately another work commitment had me on the West Coast (…boo work getting in the way of crushing my dreams of chillin’ with Connor). Nonetheless, I was still able to chat with Connor about his love of biking, Philly, and a personal passion of mine — the first time he saw the band Phish back in 2013.
Tell me a little bit about the program and why bike share in Philly is perfect. It seems like almost every other city already has a program and Philly is pretty late to the game.
Exactly. Most major cities already have a bike share program and it’s great that Philly finally has one. I was pretty excited when it was first proposed last year. I knew eventually I’d become a part of it because of how important I think biking is. I think it’s great for the community. When Capital One became the official bank of the Indigo program, they got me involved. So I’m very excited to be involved with it now that they’re officially launching it.
Do you think it will be used in Philly as much as it in in other cities? Like Citibike in New York?
I think so. I’ve heard that in the last year it’s been doing great. It set huge records last week when The Pope was here. It’s great for the city. I know the one difference that Philly’s bike share program has compared to others is that it’s spread out across the city and not just located in tourist neighborhoods or just in Center City. It’s all over Philadelphia.
It’s great that some of the lower socio-economic neighborhoods in Philly can take advantage of it.
The most important thing about any public transit is that it allows people to get to their jobs. That’s something that will happen when you put it in lower income neighborhoods. I think Philly is one of the first to put bike share in lower income neighborhoods. This bike share program also allows you to use cash to rent a bike. Most don’t do that and require credit cards. So in some of these lower income neighborhoods people are going to be able to take advantage of that and use the bikes to go to work.
It’s kind of a bougie thing in other places…
Exactly. It’s for everyone in Philly.
Let’s skip over football…
Well, sorry. But we’re only one game out of first place. A lot of football left to be played…
What I really wanted to ask you about is the band Phish. I know that probably sounds really silly. But whatever. Last year a bunch of Phish fans — myself included — noticed that you were wearing a summer tour shirt in your ESPN profile…
Haha. Well actually… Full disclosure: I used to listen to a lot of Phish back when I was in high school. And then I kinda stopped listen to them. And then I got brought back by a good buddy of mine. He took me to a show in New York. I forget the name of the venue but it was the one on the water…
Yeah, Jones Beach. And it was incredible, man. I had a great time. The best thing about Phish shows is how everyone there is having such a great time. Everyone gets along, the music is great. It’s one of the most fun shows I went to all of last year.
Phish at Jones Beach theater. pic.twitter.com/NBAvfIzMQG
— Connor Barwin (@ConnorBarwin98) July 13, 2013
You said you were into Phish in high school. Had you seen them before that?
No, no. That was my first time. I heard from everyone that I needed to go. I know that Phish people tend to go to like six shows over and over and over. So every time I told someone it was my first one, everyone got all excited.
It’s kind of funny how quickly Phish Twitter noticed in that profile. Everyone just sort of got a kick out of it. :”Oh hey, here’s Connor Barwin, riding his bike to work and acting like a stereotypical Phish fan…”
Haha. It’s cool. I wasn’t even thinking about it. I just put the t-shirt on. But you’re right, I got hit up all over the Internet from the Phish blogs that day, which was pretty funny.
It’s a weirdly rabid sub-set of Internet media.
I figured that out!
Thanks for talking this morning.
You got it. Check out Capital One’s Indego next time you’re in Philly.
Editor’s Note: As part of Capital One’s sponsorship with Indego in Philly, Capital One debit card customers can receive $5 off their first month’s Indego membership and Indego members receive 50% off all hand crafted beverages at the Capital One Rittenhouse Café. Word.