Updated: 8:09 a.m.
Eagles right guard Brandon Brooks left Sunday’s 17-9 loss to the Seahawks in the first quarter with what the team called an “illness.”
On Monday morning, head coach Doug Pederson confirmed on 94WIP that Brooks' "illness" was a return of the game-day anxiety that had afflicted the starting right guard earlier in his career.
"Yeah, it’s connected," Pederson said. "I’ll just say this, I’m not going to get into a lot of detail with that. Because, listen, this is a real life issue. This is not a football issue with Brandon. This is a real life issue that he has come out and publicly acknowledged and kind of shared his story a few years back. It’s something that he’s dealing with each and every day of his life. You never really know what triggers it. We’re here to support him, we love him. It is unfortunate that it happened, but it’s something that he deals with every single day. We’re just going to continue to support him."
Shortly after, Brooks acknowledged what happened, via Twitter:
The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff McLane first reported the link.
After the game, when asked if Brooks’ illness was related to anxiety, Pederson said he hadn’t yet talked to team doctors.
“He just got sick and just had an illness, and we had to make a sudden change,” Pederson said.
Brooks, 30, has previously spoken publicly about his battle with anxiety, but he’s been able to control it for the past few seasons. Brooks hadn’t missed any time because of it since 2016, when he missed two games in a three-game span.
This is an issue that dates back to Brooks’ time with the Texans in Houston, where he also missed games. Back then, Brooks thought he was dealing with stomach ulcers. He didn’t realize it was anxiety until he joined the Eagles.
“For me, it’s just I always want to be perfect in what I do and if I’m not perfect it’s not good enough, and sometimes that just really weighs on you,” Brooks said in 2016.
“And I have to learn how to kind of chill out and understand it’s OK to make mistakes. It’s OK to not be perfect.”
Brooks has credited his teammate Lane Johnson for helping him to deal with his game-day anxiety. Johnson didn’t play on Sunday because of a concussion he suffered against the Patriots.
Since 2016, Brooks has made back-to-back Pro Bowls in 2017 and 2018. And in 2019, he returned from a torn Achilles to play in the season opener after just eight months. And through 10 games in 2019, Brooks was well on his way to another Pro Bowl appearance.
After being on a pitch count in the opener, Brooks had played every offensive snap since Week 2 until Sunday.
With Brooks out against the Patriots, Halapoulivaati Vaitai filled in at right guard for the rest of the first half. But once Andre Dillard was benched to start the third quarter, Big V slid to right tackle and Matt Pryor took over at right guard.
Back on Nov. 11, Brooks signed a four-year contract extension worth $56.2 million, making him the highest-paid guard in the NFL. Based on his play and what he means to the team, the contract extension was warranted.
But this latest reported setback with his anxiety is certainly troubling for him and for the team.
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