Eagles

Why Brandon Graham is never in a rush to leave the field

Eagles

The sun was shining in South Philadelphia on Wednesday morning. The Eagles were back at training camp. And Brandon Graham couldn’t help but plaster a signature grin across his bearded face.

It all felt so right.

And last year felt so wrong.

The Eagles lost Graham to an Achilles tear in Week 2 last season. It was an injury that devastated Graham and his teammates and casted some serious doubt on his NFL future. But Graham attacked his recovery and now at age 34 is back for his 13th NFL season with a new appreciation for all of it.

“I’m excited to be back out here,” Graham said on Wednesday. “I’m not in no rush to leave the field because, as you know, time is flying.

“Once we get started with this season it’s going to be over and I’m going to be going into (Year) 14. I’m just trying to enjoy every day.”

When Graham initially tore his left Achilles tendon last year against the 49ers, he was fearful about his future. After all, in his mind, the Achilles injury was the injury you didn’t want to get. And it’s not like the recovery was easy, but Graham said it wasn’t as difficult as the microfracture knee surgery he overcame earlier in his career.

The hardest part, Graham said, was being stationary for the 2 months after surgery and the work he had to put in to get back in shape after that.

 

But as he reported to training camp this week, Graham isn’t facing any restrictions in training camp.

“I’m full-go now,” he said.

Graham is the longest tenured professional athlete in the City of Philadelphia and he’s been through pretty much everything during his career. He was a first-round draft pick, then he was a bust, then he was a starter, then he was a Super Bowl hero, then he was a Pro Bowler.

What else is there?

Graham has made it clear that he wants to make it to 15 years in the NFL; he’d need two more to reach that goal. And he’d really like to hoist that Lombardi Trophy again. He did it at the tail end of the 2017 season when his strip-sack on Tom Brady helped clinch the Super Bowl LII win.

But Graham knows this is all fleeting. He’s a guy who many people probably didn’t think would make it past his first contract. When the Eagles lost to the Saints in the playoffs in 2018, he and everyone else thought his Eagles career was over. So he’s already lasted here longer than most people thought he would. But that’s probably why he won’t take any of it for granted anymore.

There’s no one more liked inside the NovaCare Complex than Graham. His longtime teammate Fletcher Cox was noticeably gutted last September when Graham’s 12th NFL season came to a close.

The 2022 season will be the 11th with Graham and Cox on the same line.

“You gotta appreciate having BG there,” Cox said. “I’ve been playing with BG for a long time and you expect him to be there. It feels different when he’s there. He’s happy he’s back. I’m happy he’s back. Everybody’s happy he’s back. Another leader that we get back that we lost last year to injury. We’re all excited about it.”

Though Graham was around the building constantly last year as he rehabbed, things were probably much quieter on the practice field and during games without the never-ending stream of energy from BG.

Even though he’s in Year 13 now, there has been no letup with that energy. If anything, Graham seems refreshed after missing most of last season.

“Man, I’m so excited just being back with the guys,” Graham said. “A new appreciation being gone and now having another opportunity to be back here with the Philadelphia Eagles.”

At this point, it’s weird to think about the Philadelphia Eagles without him.

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