Three days earlier, Brandon Graham was beaming as he spoke before practice about how special it's been to be able to play nearly a decade alongside best friend Fletcher Cox.
“Man, it’s so cool too, and I’m trying to make sure we end it with a bang,” Graham said Thursday. “Like I tell him every year, 'Fletch, you don’t know when it’s going to be over, so let’s maximize it the best we can.'”
Three days later, Cox watched Graham hobble off the field at the Linc with a season-ending torn Achilles.
Will B.G. play again? You’d be foolish to ever count him out. But this injury at 33 years old is a tough one.
And three days after he spoke those words, Graham may have indeed played his final snaps in an Eagles uniform, his final snaps with Cox.
“It’s always tough and it was a pretty emotional moment for me to see B.G. limp off the field,” Cox said. “Me and Brandon have played so much ball together and to see him walk off the field was pretty rough for me.”
Graham was the Eagles’ first-round pick in 2011, Cox in 2012. Graham and Cox rank first and fourth in franchise history in games played by defensive linemen, with only Trent Cole and Kenny Clarke separating them.
“You know that it’s football and things happen, players get hurt, your best friend gets hurt, and BG’s obviously my locker mate since I got here,” Cox said. “Now we still get to laugh and talk about things but it won’t be on the field on Sundays, but it will be in the locker room and I’m looking forward to that and making sure he stays in a good place.”
It seemed like the entire team got punched in the gut when Graham was helped off the field and then carted inside.
Nobody knew how serious it was, but you just kind of knew it was.
“It’s terrible,” Lane Johnson said. “Probably one of the greatest humans I’ve had the pleasure of playing with and competing with. Really the heartbeat of this team, the way he conducts himself, the way he leads and the way he plays. … I’m heartbroken for him.”
Graham got hurt on the first play after the first-half two-minute warning, a short Jimmy Garoppolo pass to George Kittle.
The 49ers then drove the length of the field, taking a 7-3 lead just before halftime. It’s not easy seeing an all-time great Eagle, a Super Bowl hero, a future Eagles Hall of Famer, get hurt like that.
“That’s obviously one of our captains, that’s huge, he’s that emotional leader,” Alex Singleton said after the Eagles lost to the 49ers, 17-11, in their home opener. “You guys all know him, he’s always got a smile on his face, always doing the right things.
“I remember when I was on the practice squad, he was the guy telling me every day I would play one day. He’s that guy for this team and he’ll still be that guy. That’s the best part about him. We might lose him on the field but we’re definitely not losing him in the building.”