Eagles Insider

How Brandon Graham buried the hatchet with a bitter enemy

Eagles Insider

Back in training camp in the summer of 2018, Brandon Graham was talking about how far he'd come in his career, from perceived 1st-round bust to Super Bowl hero just a few months earlier.

He had piled up a career-high 9½ sacks in a breakthrough 2017 season and made one of the biggest plays in franchise history in the Eagles' Super Bowl win.

I asked him what the low point was during those rough early years.

He didn't hesitate.

"The low point? The low point was Wash."

Wash is Jim Washburn.

Washburn coached Eagles defensive linemen from 2011 — Graham's second season — until Andy Reid fired him with a month left to go in the 2012 season.

Washburn didn't like Graham, and Graham didn't like Washburn, and neither one made it a secret. Washburn favored Jason Babin above all the other edge rushers, and everyone knew it.

"It was hard, because he wanted his people to shine, and that was it," Graham said about Washburn back in 2013. "It was just a messed-up situation. The whole situation was just a mess."

Washburn went on to coach defensive linemen for the Lions under Jim Schwartz and was with the Dolphins through 2017 before retiring.

Fast-forward to today.

Graham, who rode the bench under Washburn, became a first-time Pro Bowler this week.

Perfect time to lash out at Washburn and say, "I told you so."

But he didn't.

On the contrary.

"Jim, it was tough, in the beginning, as a rookie coming in," Graham said. "I had (Sean) McDermott (as defensive coordinator) and Rory Segrest was my position coach the first year and then McDermott got fired and coach Washburn came in. I heard nothing but stories about him, but I already met him during the draft process when I went to Tennessee (where Washburn was D-line coach) and he was real nice, real cool during that time, but now I know I got him as a coach. He was still that same type of guy, cool, but you know, no nonsense, like 'You're a rookie, you don't have nothing to say up in here.' He was a vet guy, so it was tough for me. … It was a tough time during those times."

 

Washburn has been gone for eight years now, but he still has connections here. He and Schwartz worked together with the Titans and Lions and remain close, and Washburn's son is currently with the Eagles in the dual role of director of player personnel and senior defensive assistant.

And B.G. and Jim Washburn? After years of animosity, they worked through their differences.

"Me and Wash now, have buried that, we really good, everything is cool," B.G. said Wednesday. "I'm older now and I can understand why some things happened the way it did and I really could appreciate it. Some stuff that he taught back then is really still helping me to this day because when we got back in this (4-3) defense, all I could hear is Washburn saying, 'Get off the ball! Run to the ball and show your personality and show your athleticism!' That's pretty much how it is in this defense, so I was so excited when Schwartz ended up coming and man I'm happy that me and Wash are real cool now, compared to back then when I was a young guy and immature."

If B.G. and Wash can bury the hatchet, who knows? Maybe there's still hope for Donovan and T.O.

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