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Spadaro: Fletcher Cox, the most accomplished defensive tackle in Eagles history, calls it a career 

Fletcher Cox
Fletcher Cox

Fletcher Cox was in a reflective mood. He was seated at his locker in the NovaCare Complex, the one he has occupied since the Eagles made him a first-round draft pick in 2012, a magnificent move up by Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman to No. 12 overall, and he wanted to talk about what his day-to-day Eagles life has been.

"Every day I come in here, Spuds, and I have a lot of thanks for everyone I see. Every player, every coach, every person who works for the Eagles, our cafeteria people, the reporters who are here. It's all part of the environment where we live," Cox said. "It's something special, something I am really enjoying.

"I've been part of this organization for 12 years and you can never take it for granted. You don't want to look back and think, 'I wish I could have ...,' or "I always did ..." Spend time with the young players and make sure they understand that if you're good to the game, it will be good to you. Have respect for everybody and appreciate the time you have here. Having that mindset goes so far."

He enjoyed it all, on the field and off, for 12 seasons in Philadelphia and on Sunday, Cox announced his retirement from the game at a time when he is still a force on the field – Cox recorded 5 quarterback sacks, 33 total tackles, 17 quarterback hits, and 36 quarterback pressures in 2023 while playing 59 percent of the team's defensive snaps. Cox indicated to Roseman when he rejoined the team for this past season that it would likely be his final year to give him time to plan for life after No. 91.

"From the moment he was drafted as the 12th overall pick in 2012 until his final game, Fletcher Cox was a dominant force on our defensive line," Eagles Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie said. "A six-time Pro Bowler, a four-time All-Pro, and a member of the 2010s All-Decade Team, Fletcher is an all-time great Eagle whose contributions made him one of the most renowned defensive tackles of a generation and built him a strong case for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

"Over the course of his 12-year career, Fletcher finished with the most sacks and games played by a defensive tackle in franchise history and was the centerpiece of a defense that helped deliver the first Super Bowl Championship to the City of Philadelphia. Beyond his statistical accolades, any opposing coach would tell you their game-planning could not start until they figured out how to deal with No. 91. Whether he was wreaking havoc in the backfield or taking on double teams to set up others for success, Fletcher thrived in every style of defense he played during his career. He was an incredibly tough and durable player who put his body on the line week in and week out for his teammates. You could always rely on him to set the tone on gamedays, whether it was with a chilling inspirational speech or a big play in a key moment.

"What made Fletcher truly special is that his influence extends even further behind the scenes. The six-time team captain was a key figure in establishing a championship culture in our building. As nasty as he was on the field, he was a master of his craft while also serving as a big brother and mentor to so many young players over the years. He had a tremendous amount of respect for the game of football and the legacy he would one day be leaving behind, and that was reflected in the way he set the standard every single day whether on the practice field or in the locker room. That standard will live on for many years thanks to his leadership and the respect he earned from everyone in the building.

"We are incredibly thankful for everything he gave to our organization and to the City of Philadelphia over the years, and we wish him all the best as he embarks on the future."


Fletcher Cox set the standard

The stats, the accolades, and even the QBs who Fletcher Cox hunted are all here. "Fletch is everything we believe in with this organization and he is the kind of player you want to build your franchise around." View this tribute to his outstanding career.

The honors through the years are staggering: Cox was named a member of the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 2010s, he made six Pro Bowls, was voted an All-Pro four times – once on the first team – and in 2023 Cox was the team's nominee for the NFL's Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award, presented each year to an NFL player who demonstrates on the field the qualities of great sportsmanship, including fair play, respect for opponents, and integrity in competition.

"I think All-Pros and Pro Bowls, all that is great, right? But to be All-Decade, that's an elite group and there's not many spots for it. All-Decade is very special and I'm very happy to be a part of it," Cox said.

Cox was also named an Eagles team captain for six consecutive seasons and, of course, was a member of the Eagles' 2017 Super Bowl Championship Team and a key piece in 2022 when the Eagles advanced to Super Bowl LVII.

It was an incredible career in every way for Cox, who played 188 regular-season games with Philadelphia to rank first among defensive tackles and tied for third among all players in team history, recorded 70 career quarterback sacks to rank fifth in Eagles history in that category and tied Seth Joyner for the most fumbles recovered for a touchdown (3) in the history of the franchise.

"When I got here, everyone welcomed me with open arms. Mr. Lurie is the reason that the standard is so high," Cox said. "As I transformed into a leader in that room, I had to set a standard for myself. I had to hold myself to that standard, no matter how many years in the league I've been playing. My job, my goal is to keep the standard as high as I can to make sure that everyone is saying, 'Hey, look man, this guy has been in the league for 12 years. This is my second year in the league, why am I not running to the ball like he is.'"

Amazing stuff for No. 91, who was an All-Rookie selection in 2012 after registering 39 total tackles, 5.5 quarterback sacks, and 10 quarterback hits, a start to a career that just got better and better. Moving up in the 2012 NFL Draft from No. 15 overall to No. 12 to get Cox turned out to be a masterstroke for the Eagles.

"Everyone agreed that to get a 6-foot-4, 310-pound guy, 35-inch arms, powerful, athletic, great character, we'd have to pick in the top five," Roseman explained at the time. "For us, even if that future one (first-round draft pick) was a 12 or 13 or 14, we thought it was a unique opportunity that we were able to get that kind of guy."

As the Eagles saw Cox mature in his career, they understood what kind of player he was and valued the impact he made on the field.

"He's a rare player who changes the game and we're not going to let that kind of player walk out of this building," Roseman said after the Eagles signed Cox to a six-year contract in 2016, one of four contracts he signed with the team. "Fletch is everything we believe in with this organization and he is the kind of player you want to build your franchise around."

Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox announced his retirement after a 12-year career in Philadelphia. As the All-Decade Team selection and Super Bowl Champion steps away from football, relieve some of his best moments in an Eagles uniform.

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