Part Tim Riggins, part warrior, part tall-tale-teller, Bryan Braman may very well be the most interesting man in the NovaCare Complex.
The new Eagles linebacker with the tongue-twister name comes to the Eagles to provide depth on defense and relentlessness on special teams. How he got here, though, helps explain why former and reunited teammate Donnie Jones described Braman as a "war daddy" with a "will-sacrifice-body mentality."
Here is where we let the 6-foot-5, 241-pound curiosity take over the story.
"It was a long journey," Braman said Thursday, after officially signing his two-year contract. "It was definitely a lot of fun and I don't think I would be standing here talking to you today if it wasn't for that journey. I played a year for the University of Idaho out of high school. Unfortunately, I didn't realize you had to go to class and get good grades in order to play football. I had to learn that the hard way. I took a year off. I come from a pretty humble beginning, a blue-collar family, decided to go back and work with the family. I thought that would be something I would do, just like generations before me. After about three months, I realized that wasn't something I wanted to do.
"It wasn't (actually) working with the family. I come from a pretty blue-collar family. They have done whatever, whether it was working retail, military, however it goes. I actually got a job making concrete railroad ties for a company named CXT. It was backbreaking work for $10 an hour and it was about 75 hours a week. I decided that I deserved an education over a broken back.
"I decided to go back to school and found my way to Long Beach City College, played two years there. There was a real great guy, Bobby King, he came and found me from West Texas A&M from Long Beach City. He recruited me to the panhandle of Texas. I played there for two years. Unfortunately, my senior year I got into some trouble. There were some character issues that people were questioning when I was coming out my senior year. Coach King, fortunately enough, he was brought up onto the staff with Wade Philips when he came to Houston from Dallas and coach King did a great thing for me and I feel like I owe him a lot. He stood up for me, put his name on the line, told the Houston organization that it was a misjudgment, that I don't have character issues, that I'm a good guy, a good quality guy, that I work hard. I've always worked hard for everything I have. So that's kind of why Houston sits close to my heart, because they gave me a shot when nobody else was really batting an eyelash.
"It was a long road, but I ended up where I wanted to be at the beginning of that journey, so I can't complain. I'm going to give praise to God because I know that I'm definitely blessed and he's a lot of the reason why I'm here as well."
In Houston, Braman established himself as a demon on special teams, where he has two blocked punts (both of which were returned for touchdowns, including one by Braman himself) to his credit. His most notorious play, though, came when he tackled Tennessee Titans punt returner Marc Mariani along the sideline – without a helmet.
The face-first tackle is a talent Braman has been honing from a young age.
"It was kind of a funny story," Braman said. "I was playing football with one of my mom's ex-boyfriends and we were out there playing football in the playground. There was a fire hydrant at the end of it and I didn't see it when I was running and came across it with my face first. It kind of turned out to be an interesting story. It's led to me tackling. People say they're not surprised to see my tackling people without my helmet on and stuff because I started young."
Though Braman creates an imposing figure, he's far from the most intimidating specimen in his lineage. Upon the news that Braman was coming to Philadelphia on Wednesday, rumor surfaced that Braman's late grandfather stood 7-foot-4, 460 pounds. Braman made an important correction Thursday.
"My grandfather was 7-foot-4, unfortunately he was not 460 pounds," Braman said with a smile. "There was a mixup in the weight. He was right around 365, so he did have a little bit of a belly but he was all legs and his head was a little lumpy from all of the door jams that he was running into.
"He was a World War II veteran. Unfortunately his back was severed with a bayonet and he was honorably discharged for that as well as it was costing them too much money … to pay for his uniform because he was so big. But he was an MP (Military Police) for a while."
Size, then, may not be the only trait passed down to Braman from his grandfather. Asked what his mindset is on special teams, Braman needed only four words.
"Kill, maim and destroy," he said.
While providing Eagles fans with an easy rhyming nickname for their new special teams missile (Maimin' Braman, of course), the former Texan also explained that he understands his role with the Eagles. While special teams remains the priority, he'll be ready if needed on defense.
"Coach Kelly has definitely expressed to us how important special teams is for the game and what he expects us to do to help with special teams as we get underway here," Braman said. "Obviously (Chris Maragos and I) were brought in and given a role, but we also take it very seriously to create a competitive environment and push each other as well as everybody else on the team. We know that will definitely help push the team to the level that obviously coach Kelly wants to take the team. We really look forward to getting out there, playing and competing with all these other guys that we just keep hearing great things about."
Make sure to follow us on Twitter @EaglesInsider.