It was hot on Tuesday. Like, temperatures in the 90s, heat index even higher.
On top of that, it was also the first day the Eagles were in full pads all summer for their most intense and longest practice of training camp.
None of that seemed to bother 34-year-old Brandon Graham, who was again one of the first Eagles on the practice field. The longest-tenured athlete in the city walked into the soup with a smile on his face and a bounce in his step.
“It’s gonna be a great day!” he shouted to no one in particular.
With Graham it’s always a great day. There’s always a wide grin. There’s always optimism. There’s always a never-ending, contagious stream of energy.
At this point in his career, entering Year 13 in the NFL, Graham knows his teammates look to him for that boost.
He’s not about to let them down.
“I’m trying to keep that energy flowing,” Graham said. “That good juju, that’s what we talk about. … Because that’s a choice. I feel like just bringing that energy, I feel like sometimes I need it. And sometimes you gotta fake it until you got the real energy.”
Yes, there are days where Graham might not feel like it. He’s human, after all.
In those rare moments, sometimes another teammate will lift him up without knowing it. He’ll feel their energy and it’ll get him out of his own head. Sometimes, he’ll do it on his own.
“Because maybe I’m thinking about what happened yesterday at practice and it’s like, ‘nah, this a new day,’” Graham said. “And sometimes, it just happens like that, where somebody might pick me up. Or most of the time, I’m picking myself up because I’m just thinking of the little things.”
If there are moments when Graham isn’t feeling like his normal jovial self, his teammates don’t get to see it. Josh Sweat smiled when asked if he had ever seen a different version of Graham.
First, Sweat just shook his head.
“No,” Sweat said. “No, he’s always going. Even when he’s tired, he still gets everybody going. I mean … nope. He’s always got the energy.”
Sweat was asked how he thinks Graham is able to always be so non-stop and he theorized that you can probably fool yourself into thinking you’re not tired. Bingo. That’s what Graham basically said.
It’s not like Graham is just an energy guy, of course. He’s been a very good player throughout his career once he shed the first-round bust label years ago. He’s the longest-tenured athlete in the city for a reason, he has a Pro Bowl to his name and is responsible for one of the most important plays in franchise history.
The energy is just an added bonus. But it’s a very important one. And it’s been a mainstay during his Eagles career, which started way back in 2010, when Sweat was just 13 years old.
“It’s great,” Sweat said. “Obviously, I’ve been around him for my whole career so far. All I do is learn from him. When I’m tired, I look at him and am like, ‘All right, I gotta go. I gotta go.’ It’s been great.
Graham has repeatedly said he’d like to play 15 years in the NFL. If he were to play 15 years for the Eagles, that would be a franchise record, surpassing a 14-season career from the legendary Chuck Bednarik.
Does Graham have three more years left in him? Hard to tell. But in this training camp, as he returns from an Achilles injury that ended his 2021 season after just two games, he looks like a player who was never injured.
This summer, as Sweat and Haason Reddick work with the first-team defense, Graham has largely been relegated to second-team. He still gets out there and rotates in with the ones, but it’s strange to see the bulk of his reps come with the second team. Some players would feel that ego shot but not Graham.
Graham understands how the NFL works and the constant youth movement that pushes veterans out the door. He’s just happy to be back and healthy and to have a role at all.
Nothing is going to break his smile. Not working with the 2s, not a bad play and certainly not oppressive heat.
“I feel like you truly have to be able to turn negative situations — if you look at the heat as a negative if you let it impact you — turn it into a positive,” quarterback Jalen Hurts said on Tuesday, answering a question that had nothing to do with Graham.
“So that’s all from the mind, it’s all how you think about it, it’s all how you approach it.”
Graham’s approach is one of a kind.
Subscribe to the Eagle Eye podcast
Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | Watch on YouTube