In a season that has been mostly forgettable for Eagles fans, there’s at least one bit of good news: Brandon Graham has finally made his first Pro Bowl.
In his 11th NFL season, the Eagles’ first-round pick from 2010 and longest-tenured player on defense, was named to the NFC Pro Bowl team on Monday night.
It was a long time coming.
Graham is one of three Eagles’ Pro Bowlers this season. He’s joined by Fletcher Cox (6th Pro Bowl) and Jason Kelce (4th).
Graham, 32, is a true redemption story. Once considered to be a draft bust, Graham worked incredibly hard to become a very good NFL player, finally became a starter and then a Super Bowl hero and now he’s getting recognized with his first Pro Bowl nod at age 32.
"This is that much more special to me because I know how much work was put in years before and even this year, knowing that my time is almost running out. It's on me to go out and do it. We went out there and did it," Graham said to the Eagles’ website on Monday.
Through 14 games, Graham has 7 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 42 tackles and 14 QB hits. His sack pace has slowed down considerably this season; Graham doesn’t have one in his last six games. But he’s still playing at a high level.
Despite all that, Graham was his usual positive self when asked about the lack of sacks recently.
“I’m getting chipped every game, a lot of things are happening, but I’m trying to get a W,” Graham said. “With a W, stats usually come with it, so I have to make sure I continue to keep working. I try not to even focus on it too much, other than just making sure I do my job.”
Inside the NovaCare Complex there's a wall with photos of all the Pro Bowlers in team history. Graham has wanted to get on that wall for a while.
He'll be up there soon.
"That's the last wall I needed to get on," Graham said to the Eagles' website. "I'm just happy that I kept going because it wasn't easy man. It was tough, hearing the bust label to a new coach with Chip Kelly coming in, new scheme, having to adjust to the 3-4 scheme, kind of out of position a little bit, but I made it happen. Doug came at a crucial point in my career and got me back to my roots in the 4-3."
In a season where the Eagles’ offensive line has been decimated by injuries, Kelce has played every game and has missed a total of just four snaps. Since he injured his elbow, he’s been playing with a giant brace on his left arm.
Overall, this is Kelce’s fourth time being named to the Pro Bowl roster but it’s the first time he’s been named to the Pro Bowl in back-to-back seasons. He has also been an All-Pro in each of the last three years. Kelce is the 16th center in NFL history to be named to four Pro Bowls and three times to the All-Pro team. The other 15 are in the Hall of Fame.
For most of the fan voting period, Kelce led NFC centers but was passed at the end by Minnesota’s Garrett Bradbury. Fan voting, player voting and coach voting each count 1/3 toward the final tall.
This is Cox’s sixth Pro Bowl nod. Just four Eagles have made more Pro Bowls: Chuck Bednarik (8), Brian Dawkins (7), Jason Peters (7), Reggie White (70). And this is six consecutive for Cox.
There is actually not a real Pro Bowl game this year because of COVID-19. Instead, the NFL is planning a virtual game. Because of the lack of alternates who will eventually be Pro Bowlers, it’s more of an honor this season. Just 88 players are Pro Bowlers in 2020, 44 from each conference. There ended up being 121 Pro Bowlers last season.
This is the first time in 70 years the actual Pro Bowl won’t be held.
Because of the Eagles’ poor season, there seemed to be a chance they might not finish with any Pro Bowlers this season. That has happened just three times before: 1971, 1999, 2013, which came after the 1970 season (3-10-1), 1998 (3-13) and 2012 (4-12).
The Eagles had six Pro Bowlers last season: Kelce, Cox, Brandon Brooks, Zach Ertz, Lane Johnson and Rick Lovato.
Subscribe to the Eagle Eye podcast: