Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox enjoying each other going into possibly their last game as Eagles

Olivia Reiner, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Football

PHOENIX — Teammates since 2012, defensive end Brandon Graham and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox share neighboring stalls in the Eagles’ locker room, a defensive front on the gridiron, and Super Bowl LII rings. They don’t have to say much to each other to convey a message on the field, capable of telegraphing their precise plans on each down with just a look.

“It’s felt like me and Brandon have been married for 11 years,” Cox said from his podium on Tuesday just 10 feet away from Graham’s.

Now, their friendship has reached football’s biggest stage for a second time, as they prepare to face quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl on Sunday. It could also be their last game as Eagles, as both Graham and Cox are in their contract years, threatening to see an end to their 13- and 11-year tenures, respectively, with the team.

Graham, 34, and Cox, 32, have indicated that they want to continue their NFL careers, but whether they return to the Eagles is beyond their control. Despite their uncertain futures, Cox is living in the now and relishing every moment of a rare Super Bowl appearance.

“The world knows I’m on a one-year deal, so I’m just here to enjoy it,” Cox said. “And we’ll see where the bricks fall.”

For Graham, that means taking more personal photos and videos with his teammates in an effort to capture each memory to look back on in the future. It’s a lesson he learned during his last Super Bowl go-around — both Graham and Cox are two of seven players on the active roster who also appeared in the Eagles’ Super Bowl LII win over the New England Patriots in Minneapolis five years ago.

With more gray in their beards this time around comes more wisdom on how to handle the chaotic week leading up to the big game. In the midst of myriad media obligations on top of their day-to-day preparation, Graham and contract-year veterans including Cox, right tackle Lane Johnson, and center Jason Kelce are setting the examples for their younger teammates to follow.

“We all just try to make sure that we’re getting everybody to not do nothing more than what we’ve done,” Graham said. “Let’s just be us. Go out there and practice. Make sure we work. Worry about today. Whatever today brings, that’s what we handle and we attack that head-on.”


But long before Graham was Philadelphia’s longest-tenured athlete and a Super Bowl champion on a quest for his second, he was the Eagles’ publicly-doubted 13th overall pick in the 2010 draft. When Cox arrived in the Eagles’ locker room in 2012 as the team’s 12th overall selection, he recalled that on the outside, “everybody wanted to run BG out of town.” Through two seasons, Graham had just three sacks and two forced fumbles in 16 games.

Cox went out of his way to form a relationship with Graham because he “wanted him to believe in himself.” While the public may have given up on Graham, labeling him a bust, Graham never gave up on himself. One Pro Bowl nod, a strip-sack on Tom Brady in the final minutes of Super Bowl LII, and 67 total sacks later, Graham has proven to be a valuable part of the Eagles on the field and in the locker room.

“It don’t matter what we’re going through, BG is going to be positive about it,” Cox said. “I’ll be positive about it. I don’t think there’s sometimes ever a day where BG’s having a bad day. Sometimes I’ve got to ask him, ‘Are you OK?’ So it’s always fun to go through moments like this with BG.”

While Cox is still a starter, just as he was in 2017, Graham now serves in a rotational role in relief of starters Josh Sweat and Haason Reddick. But as much as he enjoyed his starting job then, Graham equally enjoys his newfound role, racking up a career-high 11 sacks and two forced fumbles this season.

Although his future with the Eagles is out of his control, Graham is focused this week on the one detail he can control — his own performance. Then, with his close friend in Cox beside him, he can help the Eagles to their second Lombardi Trophy in five years.

“Just take care of business,” Graham said. “Make sure you finish the season strong, and that’s winning. Win it all. Since you’re here, put your best foot forward. And that’s the only way I can make sure that this season goes the way it’s supposed to go by just making sure I put my best foot forward for this week. And whatever happens, happens.”

©2023 The Philadelphia Inquirer. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


blog comments powered by Disqus