Fletcher Cox

5 takeaways from Fletcher Cox's farewell press conference

Here are five takeaways from Fletcher Cox's farewell press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

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It wasn’t a surprise and it wasn’t even news.

But Fletcher Cox on Tuesday, a month after announcing his retirement from the NFL, said goodbye to his NFL after 12 seasons.

Cox, 33, was the Eagles’ first-round pick out of Mississippi State back in 2012 and over the next 12 seasons became one of the greatest players in franchise history.

Cox said the thought of retirement was in the back of his mind even as the 2023 season began and he seems at peace with his decision.

He began Tuesday’s press conference by thanking Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and GM Howie Roseman, his family, friends, coaches and teammates, support staff, Eagles fans, media and more before taking questions.

Here are five takeaways from the 23-minute press conference:

1. Leaving a legacy

It’s not hard to figure out how most people will remember Cox. He made six consecutive Pro Bowls and was a member of the NFL All-Decade team for the 2010s. Quite simply, he goes down as one of the best players in Eagles history.

How does Cox want to be remembered?

“When people look back at my career, I want them to look at the way that I played the game,” he said. “The honest way I played the game. The way I went out, the way they looked at my leadership, even the younger guys. I still want them to call me for leadership and advice. That’s what I want to be looked at as.”

Throughout his time in the NFL, Cox really grew into his role as a leader for younger players, most recently Jordan Davis, Jalen Carter and more. Cox wants those younger players to be a part of his legacy and listed three guys who helped him early in his career: Trent Cole, Cullen Jenkins and Darryl Tapp.

Like Cole, Jenkins and Tapp before him, Cox really just wanted to show younger players how to be a professional. And Cox said he wants those young players to still call him whenever they need something. He’ll be there for them to lean on.

2. Shot at the Hall of Fame?

In five years, Cox will be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And while he might not be a first-ballot guy in 2029, he has a strong case. And it’s something he has given thought to before.

I think me and Howie just talked about that,” Cox said. “I gotta get in the Eagles Hall of Fame first, so that might help me.

“Obviously, yeah, that’s something that I think about. Apparently, you know, it’s all in somebody else’s hands now, you know. But hopefully one day, a few years from now, I’m putting on a gold jacket and I’ll be looking forward to it. And I’ll have the same exact family here and they’ll help me celebrate.”

Since Cox and Jason Kelce retired the same offseason, they’ll both be eligible for the Class of 2029 — so will Aaron Donald, who is considered the best DT of an era. Donald is a no-doubter and it seems likely that Kelce will be a first-ballot guy too but Cox might have to wait it out for a while. Although, as my colleague Reuben Frank pointed out, Cox put together one heck of a case during his 12-year career.

When did Cox realize he had the potential to be a Hall of Fame player? He said it happened around the time he became a first-time Pro Bowler in 2015. It was then he realized he had the ability to really take over games. Cox made six consecutive Pro Bowls from 2015-20.

3. Family Over Everything

Half of the Eagles auditorium on Tuesday was full of Cox’s family members, who were in town for the moment.

“The reason I have my entire family here is because my entire family was at the draft when I got drafted,” Cox said, “so I wanted my entire family to be here when I retired.”

Cox also felt the presence of his late brother Shaddrick, who died in 2015 at the age of 34. Shaddrick was more than Fletcher’s older brother — he was a sort of father figure for him too.

So on a day that meant so much to Cox, his brother was on his mind.

“He’s with me,” Cox said. “I’m doing everything the way that he would want me to do it, the way he would want me to have the entire family here. He would want to be here. He’s always with me. Obviously, he’s tattooed on my forearm so he’s always with me. I know he’s appreciating it and he’s probably got his chest stuck out right now, how proud he is of his little brother … his little big brother.”

4. Philly changed my life

On Tuesday, Cox began his press conference by thanking Lurie, saying something he’s mentioned plenty of times before: Getting drafted by the Eagles changed his life.

Cox came from the small town of Yazoo City, Mississippi, and it was a bit of a culture shock when he arrived in Philly. Over the next decade-plus, Philadelphia became his second home.

Cox looked at his mom on Tuesday and remembered her words to him back in 2023: “You can’t come back home, so you’ve got to figure it out and grow up to be a young man.”

The No. 12 overall pick in the 2012 draft, Cox is one of the best draft picks and players in Eagles history. The 2024 draft is just around the corner and Cox was asked to give the next Eagles’ first-round pick a bit of advice.

Here’s what he said: “Come humble and ready to work. Because it’s not easy here. Gotta have thick skin. The fans, love you. The media, love you. But the biggest part is making sure you come in with a clear mind, a humble mind and be ready to be around some really, really good teammates and coaches.”

5. What’s next?

Some NFL players really struggle as they make the transition after retirement but Cox seems to have a plan. He wants to make that transition slowly.

“Right now, just taking some time to myself. That’s the biggest thing,” he said. “Obviously, everybody know I’m a rancher — not a farmer — but I’ll do a little ranching and just making a slow transition to life.”

Cox owns the 1,500-acre Shady Trell Ranch in Jacksboro, Texas, which will occupy a lot of his time. He’s also eager to watch his nieces and nephew compete in sporting events. And Cox still plans to be around the team a little bit, hoping to continue to help some younger players develop.

One thing he won’t be able to do anymore? Someone else will have to keep trash-talking veteran Brandon Graham in check in his 15th NFL season.

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