Having already cemented his status as one of the best free agent pickups in Eagles history, Brandon Brooks will add to his impressive resume again this year.
The Eagles’ right guard is heading back to the Pro Bowl.
This year, Brooks has taken his game to a new level and has arguably been one of the best guards and overall offensive linemen in football.
What makes his success even more special this year is that Brooks returned for the 2019 season opener less than eight months after he tore his Achilles in the playoff game against the Saints. Not only did he return in that short amount of time, he returned an even better player than when he left.
“To me, it was never in doubt if I was gonna play in 2019,” Brooks said in July. “It was never in doubt that I wasn’t going to miss half the season. That was never a thought in my mind.”
Joining Brooks as a Pro Bowler is the guy who plays to his left, center Jason Kelce, who has made the team for the first time since 2016. It’s Kelce’s third Pro Bowl nod, tied for most among a center in Eagles history.
Also making the team: Fletcher Cox, Zach Ertz and Rick Lovato.
But the most impressive one has to be Brooks because of what he’s overcome to get back to this spot.
Before Brooks, 30, signed with the Eagles before the 2016 season, he hadn’t made the Pro Bowl in his four seasons with the Houston Texans. He’s at the tail end of his fourth season in Philadelphia and has made three Pro Bowls and in consecutive years starting in 2017.
This season, Brooks has been the Eagles’ best offensive lineman and has solidified an offensive line that had its struggles at times, especially early in the season.
The Eagles rewarded him this season with a four-year, $54.2 million contract extension that will keep him in Philadelphia through the 2024 season. At the end of the extension he’ll be 35, which means there’s a possibility he finishes his career with the Eagles.
After playing on a pitch count coming off the offseason surgery in the opener, Brooks played every snap until the Seattle game when his anxiety issues came back. He played 12 snaps but wasn’t able to finish the game and again had to explain that his anxiety made him physically ill. He said he thought the new contract played a role.
Brooks isn’t embarrassed by his battle with anxiety and, in fact, has become outspoken about issues of mental health, especially in the sports world.
“I think the biggest thing I always try to say first: I don’t do this to have people feel sorry for me or anything like that,” he said in late November. “The reason I try to share what I go through and my story is for people out there who are scared to get help, who feel embarrassed or ashamed to go through any type of mental illness. Hopefully people who are going through that type of stuff hopefully saw the amazing outreach and outpouring from people across the globe really about my situation.
"So just letting them know it can be OK. Some things can be prevented if you get help at some of the earlier signs. I never really thought it would be such a big impact, but I just kind of wanted to tell the truth and share my story for the one or two people that it could help. That’s all I ever really wanted to do.”
Since that game against the Seahawks, Brooks has played every snap in the three games since and has returned to his usual dominant self.
Even with that setback, Brooks has played 92 percent of the Eagles’ offensive snaps this season and has been their best offensive lineman.
Brooks is still just 30 and in the prime of his career that couldn’t even be slowed down by a torn Achilles or a setback with his anxiety. This trip to the Pro Bowl is very deserving.
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