First Pro Bowl Bid Special To Brandon Graham, His Family & Those Around Him
Former Michigan Wolverines football and current Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham has had an outstanding 11-year career in the NFL, highlighted by the organization's Super Bowl championship over the New England Patriots Feb. 4, 2018.
Graham became an Eagles legend in that game, sacking then-Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and causing a fumble with only 2:13 remaining and Philadelphia clinging to a 38-33 lead, which the Eagles recovered and all but sealed the win in the process.
There is one achievement, however, that wasn't yet on Graham's NFL resume … until this year. He had never been invited to a Pro Bowl before, despite having racked up at least 5.5 sacks in a single season six times, and at least 11 tackles for loss in five separate campaigns.
Though his 2020 season was an impressive one from a statistical standpoint, it wasn't quite his best. His eight regular-season sacks were the third most he had ever tallied in a year (behind the 9.5 he had in 2017 and the 8.5 he had in 2019), and his 13 tackles for loss were the fourth most he had ever compiled.
Graham still served as the Eagles' best player in their defensive front (at least from a statistical standpoint), leading the team in both sacks and tackles for loss. This year's Pro Bowl was originally slated to take place Jan. 31 in Las Vegas, but now will instead be a week-long virtual event as opposed to an actual game.
The annual contest has admittedly lost some of its luster and attraction in recent years, but the honor of being chosen nevertheless still meant a lot to Graham and his family, evidenced by the video below.
“I called the people that have been on this journey with me,” Graham said after being selected, according to Penn Live Patriot-News. “I called my wife and it got real hype in the car. I was just outside the NovaCare, and had just found out as soon as I left.
"It was a joyful time for us. This one goes out to all the people who really helped me through this whole career. Every year once I got close and became an alternate [in 2016], people really wanted to see it happen for me.
"All I did was just persevere and continue to keep on leaning on everybody during those times, good and bad, and just to have this moment right now, I’m very thankful.”
Former Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz even admitted "tears were shed" among Philadelphia's defensive coaches upon learning of the news. Graham admitted he had discussed potentially making the Pro Bowl with his wife, Carlyne, before the season even began, when he had tabbed getting 10 or more sacks as one of his own personal goals for 2020.
He finished two shy of that number.
“I was happy for him and his family,” former Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said. “He’s worked extremely hard in his career and probably worthy of making it a couple of times.
"But I'm just so happy for him and this being sort of the cherry on top of his career.”
Graham's teammate for the last nine seasons, defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, earned a Pro Bowl nod this year as well, and like most who speak of him, only had praise for the defensive end.
The laud for the former Wolverine (2006-09) has become commonplace in recent years, thanks in large part to the way Graham has treated others and for what he has meant for the city of Philadelphia.
“I think I’m more excited for him than I am for myself,” Cox revealed. “To see him go out and all the hard work he put in and the things he sacrificed and the impact he really makes on games that sometimes goes unnoticed, he’s been deserving of that.
"This year he finally got the nod, and I’m excited for him. He called me, and I knew when the phone rang what he was calling about. He was really excited and you could just hear it in his voice.
"His family was excited, and everybody here was excited for him too because we know he deserved it.”
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