NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Before Challenger soars around the stadium for his stirring portion of the pregame routine, the bald eagle takes the same trip upstairs as many fans heading to the upper deck.
He rides the elevator.
Challenger’s trick is swooping from his perch high above the field circling over the fans on his way down to the waiting left arm of his handler, with the occasional extra loop around the field.
“He recognizes people are clapping, applauding, taking pictures,” Al Louis Cecere said. “Who knows? We can’t totally get into Challenger’s mind, but I think he kind of enjoys it.”
Challenger has become a regular during national anthems since the Tennessee Titans moved into their current stadium in 1999, but this eagle has flown at NFL stadiums in Green Bay, Buffalo, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Minnesota and Detroit, with Houston on tap later this year. Naturally, Philadelphia is a frequent stop for Challenger, with the Eagles bringing the bald eagle to several games this season.
He is considered the first bald eagle trained to fly freely at sports stadiums, with his resume featuring three Pro…