SPORTS As Brandon Graham is set to make history with...

As Brandon Graham is set to make history with the Eagles, he’s grateful for the team for sticking with him

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PHILADELPHIA — There may not be an athlete who exemplifies being a Philadelphia Eagle more than Brandon Graham. 

From a rough start in his career in Philadelphia to learning (and excelling) at a new position, Graham has always tried to keep a positive mindset through it all. The patience was rewarded with the greatest play in franchise history (a forced fumble on Tom Brady in Super Bowl LII), all in the midst of staying with the franchise that stuck with him when times were tough. 

Now, Graham is set to break one of the hardest records in team history. Graham will play in his 189th game with the Philadelphia Eagles when he takes the field Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, setting the franchise record for games played in the 91 seasons of the organization. 

“Now that it’s here, I didn’t see this day coming,” Graham said. “You want to play this long, but being with the same team, same organization. Being part of this organization has been nothing but fun. The beginning was a little rough, but its been getting better and better every year. 

“I just want to thank the guys in front of me that have paved the way. They kept the torch burning, and I’m just trying to do the same for the young guys to keep it going.”

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It once was laughable Graham would play five seasons with the Eagles, yet alone 14. A first-round pick in 2010, Graham was deemed a bust after struggling to get on the field and having 11.5 sacks in his first four seasons — starting six of his first 48 games. 

A position change to linebacker in a 3-4 scheme under former defensive coordinator Billy Davis was how Graham managed to stick around. He started just one game between 2013 and 2014, but managed to set a career-high in tackles, forced fumbles, and sacks in his free agent year. Graham earned a four-year deal with the Eagles and made the most of it, earning his first All-Pro selection in 2016 and providing the forced fumble on Brady in Super Bowl LII one year later — forever putting himself in Eagles’ lore. 

Graham is fourth on the franchise’s all-time sack list (72) and tied with Seth Joyner for second in team history in forced fumbles (21). He’s also tied with Chuck Bednarik for the most seasons played with the franchise (14). 

“Y’all got all the details. I worry about all the details on the field,” Graham said with a smile regarding the franchise record. “You don’t really have time to think about the milestones that are approaching. You know how many sacks you got for the year! That’s one thing you think about. 

“This is definitely a great accomplishment. I played with David Akers (who Graham is tied with for most games played with the Eagles). I know how good of a dude he is. For me to do that, I ain’t no kicker, but it’s good to be a part of that conversation.” 

Not only is Graham a leader on the field, but a role model off it. His foundation, named Team Graham, mentors young boys and girls,  gives away clothes, feeding homeless and needy families, and has fundraisers for local communities. He also supports the Detroit Police Athletic League, where he played growing up. 

“He’s a special player, special leader, special person,” Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said. “I saw him this summer somewhere down the Jersey Shore, and he’s like, ‘Hey, coach.’ We were at the same pool. He was like, ‘Hey, coach, can I use that ball that you have?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, no problem.’ I throw him the ball. He’s like, ‘I’m going to play catch with my son.’

Next thing I know, he’s playing catch with the entire pool, like 30 kids. He wanted to play catch with his son, but he’s playing catch with the entire pool. This is the type of guy he is. It’s mostly kids that are playing catch, but you know, grown-ups are going by going, ‘Whoo! Give me a shot.’ He’s throwing it to them. The guy is unbelievable.

“Just not only a great football player, but a great person, a great teammate, a great leader, you name it. I think you would hear the same thing from every person in that locker room and every person in this building.” 

Even when times were tough for Graham, he always believed in the words from the late Michigan head coach Bo Schembechler. 

Those who stay, will be champions. 

“I just want people to talk about how hard I played on the field and as selfless as possibly as I could,” Graham said. “We all have our goals on what we wanna go, but I feel like the team goals and personal goals go hand in hand if you have a good balance. It’s the way you go about it.

“I want people to say he went about it the right way. People know me, people have met me — they know I try to be the best dude I can be. You can’t please everybody, but I’m gonna try to be the best ‘me’ everyday. I’m gonna try to control what I can control.” 

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