Brandon Graham just wants to keep it going, this perfect fit: For a 14th season, he will be a Philadelphia Eagle, tying Hall of Fame linebacker/center Chuck Bednarik for the most seasons played with the Eagles. And that's what matters to Graham – staying with the team that selected him in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft and doing everything he can to make another Super Bowl push, this time with a second Lombardi Trophy to hold.
"I wasn't interested in going anywhere else," Graham said after the team announced that he had agreed to a one-year contract for the 2023 campaign. "This is my home. I love everything about the Eagles, about being part of this family, and I'm excited for what we've got going here. I can't wait to get it started again."
Graham enters 2023 having played 178 games with the Eagles (105 starts), the fourth-most in franchise history behind David Akers' 188 games, Brian Dawkins (183), and Harold Carmichael (180). Graham was a significant contributor to the 2022 NFC Championship team, reaching double digits in quarterbacks sacks (11) for the first time in his career, playing 43 percent of the defensive snaps (474 total snaps) and bringing energy, versatility, and production with every snap.
It was a huge return to excellence for Graham, who faced a career hurdle when he suffered a torn Achilles tendon in Week 2 of the 2021 regular season, an injury that can end a career, especially for a player in the advanced stage of his career playing a position that relies on a burst off the line of scrimmage. Graham crushed his rehabilitation, focusing on one moment at a time.
He kept his eye on the prize: A 13th season with the Eagles, a chance to return to the playing field with a team that had a chance to do something special, and another opportunity to hear it from a fan base that loves Graham with all of its collective heart.
So, when Graham recovered from the initial shock of suffering the injury last September against the visiting 49ers, he set his mind to being positive and keeping his focus on one day at a time.
"That was the key for me, because it was tough in the beginning. You get hurt right in the beginning of the season and you can definitely have a frown on your face sometimes," Graham said. "It was a big letdown at first, but then my mind changed and I came with the right attitude every day coming back from it."
That attitude and that dedication served Graham well. For everything that he did and the example he was to his teammates, Graham was voted the Eagles' 2022 recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award, presented to one player from all 32 teams who exemplifies commitment to the principles of sportsmanship and courage. The Ed Block Courage Award has become one of the most esteemed honors bestowed upon a player in the NFL and each recipient is selected solely by a vote of his peers.
Every fall, all 32 teams conduct a vote which results in each team selecting their Ed Block Courage Award recipient for the year. Graham and the other 31 recipients will be honored at a gala in Baltimore on April 1.
"Being voted on by my teammates, that's special," Graham said. "I just stayed focused on making sure that I was going to come back and if people didn't believe that I was, I was going to make sure to put my best foot forward every day."
Of course, Graham came back. And he played outstanding football in 2022, twice earning NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors and becoming one of four Eagles to reach double digits in quarterback sacks. The Eagles were 14-3 in the regular season, swept through the NFC in two playoff victories, and reached Super Bowl LVII.
It was a terrific season that, had Graham not approached his injury rehabilitation with the right attitude and dedication, could very easily have missed.
"People really watch you when you go through some adversity to see how you handle it," Graham said, "and I'm glad I handled it the right way. I couldn't control what happened, but I could control my attitude and it just proved to me that there is always something on the other side of that coin. You might not see it, but it's always something that is going to come up.
"Even though we didn't win the Super Bowl, this was a magical year. It was so much fun. I enjoyed it, everything – the buildup to the game, everything that happened during this year. It just showed me that I can still play in this league, for one, being I didn't have to play as many snaps as I normally play to have one of my best years. It was definitely a challenge at first, but to go out and do what we did this year, it's only promising for what's to come."
What's to come is a 14th season with the Eagles and another season in pursuit of a second Super Bowl title.