Fletcher Cox

Eagles pay homage to all-time greats by rocking their throwbacks at parade

Eagles pay homage to all-time greats by rocking their throwbacks at parade

Thursday’s epic championship parade was a celebration of the 2017 Eagles team bringing home the Super Bowl trophy to Philadelphia for the first time ever.

But fans of the Birds know that this championship was a celebration of all of the teams and fans that came before them.

That fact was not lost on these Eagles players as they rode down Broad Street with the Lombardi Trophy.

“Is that Jason Peters rocking a Brian Dawkins’ jersey!?!” I screamed to anyone willing to listen as I stood on the rail near Broad and South as a bus rolled in from a distance.

Indeed it was. And it was awesome.

One of the best Eagles’ players ever wearing the jersey of perhaps the greatest Eagle ever. It was an incredible gesture not lost on anyone.

And Peters was just one of many of the current players to rock a throwback.

Peters paid homage to Dawk. Fletcher Cox rocked Reggie White. Brent Celek wore Harold Carmichael’s No. 17 jersey. Rodney McLeod was repping Randall Cunningham. 

Eagles fans wear these throwbacks all the time but it was unique to see the current guys do the same.

Celek spoke to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Danny Pommels while riding the bus down Broad about the thought behind his jersey choice.

“I used to come in the building everyday and see Harold. That guy taught me a lot about what it means to be a professional athlete and to be a man in this league,” Celek said.

“These guys that came before us, they deserve it. They deserve everything that we’re going through right now. They weren’t able to experience it. I just want them to be a part of it a little bit.”

Derrick Gunn caught up with Carmichael in front of the Art Musem and asked him about Celek's sartorial selection.

“This is a great honor that he’s paying tribute to me. Brent called me the other day, he said, ‘I want to wear your jersey but I can’t find one.’ I said, ‘well, Brent, they’re all sold out!’ I told him I’d look and see what I had for him,” Carmichael said.

It also produced one of the most iconic images of the memorable day of Celek atop the Art Museum steps with a familiar hat.

A beautiful, fitting reward for Brandon Graham

A beautiful, fitting reward for Brandon Graham

MINNEAPOLIS — A few days before Super Bowl LII, Eagles defensive line coach Chris Wilson sat at a round table in a dingy, poorly-lit corner of a giant empty storage room at the Mall of America and preached patience. 

He preached that even if his players weren't getting to Tom Brady for the first quarter or first half or even until the very end, they couldn't stop trying. Eventually their moment would come. 

He was right. 

"You don't get to beat the G.O.A.T. every day," Wilson said late Sunday night, wearing a smile to go along with his new Super Bowl champs gear as he walked out of the victorious locker room in the bowels of U.S. Bank Stadium. 

Brandon Graham listened to his coach. He was patient. After the Eagles hadn't sacked Brady all night, after they had barely gotten a finger on him, Graham pulled off one of the biggest plays in the Eagles' 41-33 Super Bowl win (see breakdown). His patience is a big reason there's going to be a parade down Broad Street (see celebration).

With just over two minutes remaining in Super Bowl LII, Graham came around and knocked the ball out of Brady's hands. From there, Derek Barnett was able to scoop it up and the Eagles were able to hold on for their first Lombardi Trophy (see Roob's observations)

"The main thing was, I told Brandon and Chris (Long) to just do their thing," Fletcher Cox said. "I told them to do whatever they want. I just tried to get a push up the middle to cause some disruption and [I told him to just do] what Brandon Graham does. Making plays. Those are the things we talk about, just playing together and sticking together as a unit. Nobody is trying their own gain. I think at the end of the day, that's what it came down to — everyone just playing together." 

Graham's sack was the only one the Eagles' heralded defensive line had all game. It was the only one it needed. 

Brady and the Patriots put up an astounding 613 total offensive yards, the most any team has ever had in a Super Bowl. And it didn't matter. 

"We don't care how many yards we gave up," Malcolm Jenkins said. "We were just trying to win."

As Brady and the Patriots spent most of Sunday night in a shootout with Nick Foles and the Eagles' offense, Graham and his defensive line teammates were just trying to heed the words of advice from their position coach. 

Stay patient. 

Stay patient. 

Stay patient. 

"We knew," Graham said. "We knew that Tom Brady was going to try to take us out of the game. We knew we were going to have an opportunity in there where he was going to have to hold the ball. We just kept working, kept working, not getting frustrated, we had to keep talking to each other. 'Hey, we're going to make a play, we're going to win this thing.' People believed and at the end of the day, we won the game and we just kept staying strong."

After Graham knocked the ball free and it was loose on the vibrant green turf that would soon be covered in Lombardi Trophy-shaped confetti, the Eagles needed a rookie to do his job. They needed Barnett to fall on it. 

"What's going through my head?" Barnett said, repeating the question. "Secure the ball. Secure the ball and then try to score."

Barnett wasn't able to get to the end zone, but the Eagles' offense got the ball back, killed some time and then the defense held once more.  

It's fitting in a way that Graham's patience paid off in the Eagles' Super Bowl win. For a former first-round pick, who was once deemed a bust, he's certainly come a long way. He's one of the best players on the team, he's one of the most disruptive defensive ends in football, he's become a fan favorite. 

And now he's a world champion. 

He just had to be patient to get there. 

"We about to have a party on Broad Street, baby!" Graham said. "I know they tearing it up now, but we about to come and tear it up some more."

What is Eagles' formula to beat Tom Brady?

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USA Today Images

What is Eagles' formula to beat Tom Brady?

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- If the Eagles are going to beat the Patriots in Super Bowl LII, their defensive line is going to need to be dynamic. 

It's as simple as that. 

Because the Patriots are going to take the field led by Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL, the Eagles' best chance to slow him down is by getting after him, hitting him and making his night miserable. It's not easy, but the front four needs to do it. 

"We look at it like that every week," defensive end Brandon Graham said. "As a defensive line, you have to disrupt the quarterback. As the leader of his team, that's how the offense gets going. Every week that's our standard. That's nothing new to us. We've been saying it all year."

Brady has played in seven Super Bowls and he's won five. The two he lost came to the New York Giants, who also had a dominating front four. 

Earlier this week, we caught up with former Giants pass-rusher Osi Umenyiora, who sees some clear similarities between those Giants teams and this Eagles team (see story). He thinks the Eagles have a real chance to win this game.  

The Eagles' defensive linemen didn't seem to know too much about those Giants' Super Bowl wins. They were young and seem to just remember that incredible David Tyree catch. But defensive line coach Chris Wilson watched and those games have been on his mind recently. 

"We go back and study but we try to go back and study things that are applicable, things that are current now and see how their mindsets were back then," Wilson said. "But so much has changed since those days. The one constant is Bill (Belichick) and Tom, they're consistent. But a lot of the pieces have changed. We go back and take a quick glance at it and see if they have any relevance now. If they do, we use it. If they don't, we just stick to what we have." 

The Eagles' front four has to get after Brady but it can't try to do too much. That's when things could get ugly. They have to be disciplined in their gaps and make sure they're doing what they're supposed to. 

"You just gotta do your job," Vinny Curry said. "Don't try to do nobody else's job. Do your job."

Those who have faced Brady before say that even when they get after him, he never really looks flustered. He might throw a few more incompletions than normal, but you're never going to see him hang his head or get some of the visible signs some other quarterbacks give. Wilson said the key is to just stay patient. 

"We're not blind to the fact, we know what we're up against," said Tim Jernigan, who spent the first few years of his career in the AFC. "I've had my experience playing against this guy. There were times where I beat the guy clean, never touched me, and I still never got to him. The guy is intelligent, he knows exactly where to go with the ball."

During the last two weeks of practice, backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld has been playing the role of Brady for the scout team. Everyone said he did a nice job and the Eagles could certainly use all the help they can get. 

Before these playoffs started, Fletcher Cox talked about how the defensive line is the highest paid unit on the team and the group needed to play like it. Through two games, he and his group certainly have. They have one more game to go. 
  
"I think it's just more magnified," Wilson said. "I think the biggest thing is the jump we made from Year 1 to Year 2. Now it's more magnified because now the whole world's watching. There are not 32 teams playing. Now you're down to that final four, there's more emphasis, there's more eyes on it. This is something I think they've been doing throughout the season."