Before every game this season, the Eagles’ three longest-tenured players get to share a moment together.
Brandon Graham, Jason Kelce and Fletcher Cox have been teammates for over a decade and are three of the Eagles’ seven captains this season. And for the last couple months, it has been those three taking the walk to midfield before every game for the coin flip.
“Those are moments you never forget,” Cox said this week. “You cherish those moments. I’ve been here with BG and Kelce the whole time and it’s a special group of guys that’s played a lot of ball, that’s won a championship in this city.
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“Us three always go out there. We offer it to the other guys but they just tell us three to go out there. We take over it and make sure it’s done.”
Graham, Kelce nor Cox seem exactly sure why it’s been just those three in recent weeks — there have been some previously games where they’re joined by another teammate — to meet the other team’s captains at midfield.
“I’d be lying if I had an answer to that one,” Kelce said.
But it seems quite fitting.
It’s rare in today’s NFL for three guys — three legends — to be teammates for this long. Graham was drafted in 2010, Kelce in 2011 and Cox in 2012. Between them, they’ve played 512 games and counting for the Eagles. All three are in the top 10 in games played in franchise history.
A couple weeks ago when Kelce played his 170th game, passing Chuck Bednarik for the most games ever played by an Eagles offensive lineman, he said what made it so special was seeing Graham and Cox’s names right up on that leaderboard with him.
“It’s unique and special,” Kelce said. “It means we’ve all meant a lot to the organization over our careers. To be able to do that together is pretty cool.
“I think it’s really hard in this league to do. Obviously the team has their own interests and the player has their own interests, injuries, there are so many factors that prevent those types of durations in one organization in this league. The fact that all three of us have been around for that long, it’s rare and it’s cool. Usually means that we’ve all meant a lot to the team and the organization.”
So any moment these guys get together has a little more meaning.
Graham said he hurries on the sideline to make sure he’s ready to walk side-by-side with Kelce and Cox to midfield.
“Whenever I can walk out on that field with them,” said Graham, breaking into his signature laugh, “first thing, I gotta make sure the pictures is looking good. So I’m sucking my stomach in so that when they give me them pictures, I’m looking good.”
While Cox said all three walk out there with their helmets strapped up, ready to go, they’re also loose. These three genuinely enjoy each each other’s company, which is nice because they’ve spent a lot of time together over the last decade or so.
When it comes time to speak to the referee to either call heads or tails or to deliver the other information like receive, defer and side of the field, it has been Kelce or Cox to take the reins. Cox said Graham gets a little nervous in those moments so he leaves it to the other two.
But Graham didn’t say that was the reason.
“You know what, it just happened like that,” Graham said. “You know what? I’m gonna speak next time since he thinks it’s just him. I’m gonna be like, ’No, Fletch, I got it this time.’ I’m just living in the moment, I’m just letting them do their thing. He just stands there ready to talk so I just let him. This time I ain’t gonna let him.”
Whatever they’re doing, it’s working. The Eagles are 9-3 in coin tosses this season.
Of course, it’s not really about the coin toss. It’s about three Eagles legends doing something together for the team they lead. One day, all three will be immortalized in the Eagles Hall of Fame and they’re already legends for being major contributors in the only Super Bowl victory in franchise history.
With an 11-1 record this season, there’s a chance they can add another championship to their collective resume this season.
Either way, it’s hard to imagine Graham, Kelce and Cox will be together again next season. But it’s even harder to imagine the franchise without them.
“Yeah, man, I just know that next year is going to look different,” Graham said. “I don’t know how different. Could be one person different or we could all be back. You just never know. I’m just trying to enjoy that moment and every time we get a chance to go out there, I’m always ready. Got my helmet on, hurrying up, trying to make sure I don’t miss it.”
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