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  • Writer's pictureBrian Baldinger


Brian Baldinger - On the Eagles

The best left side of an offensive line in the NFL is the Eagles; 700-plus pounds of Landon Dickerson and Jordan Mailata.

I had a chance to catch up with both of them at the June 1st OTA after practice for the veterans had finished. They reminded me to go re-watch the playoff victories v the Giants and the 49ers. I have done as they asked and I will address that.

But what stood out more than anything is how they have bonded into a true brotherhood in less than 2 years.

Mailata is an Aussie with a Rugby background while Dickerson is a Carolina kid who attended FSU and Alabama.

They are from different sides of the globe and quite different paths to the NFL.

But after less than two years of service in Stoutland University together they have bonded so close that Mailata was recently in charge of being the best man in Dickerson's wedding. Ironically, Mailata is also walking down the aisle this summer and while

Dickerson will be in attendance, Mailata has chosen his blood brother to be his best man.

Football and especially the offensive line bring men closer together.

This story of Dickerson and Mailata is not unusual. The Eagles have one of the best offensive lines in all of football and the brotherhood they all share is a big key to their success in addition to the enormous talent that they possess.

But how does a brotherhood form? I recall doing an Eagles v Giants game at METLIFE Stadium in Dickerson' rookie year.

Landon Dickerson (left) and Jordan Mailata during OTA practice June 1, 2023 at NovaCare. Photo by Brian Baldinger

It was a cold blustery December day. 2 1/2 hours before kickoff, offensive line guru Jeff Stoutland was putting his young left side through some demanding skull sessions in preparation for the Giants game two hours later.

Combo blocks, audible calls, pin and pull blocking schemes, v a variety of fronts and stems that they may see. They were both locked in. This skull session has taken place nearly every Game Day since Dickerson's arrival over two years ago.

The takeaway is that the O-LINE spends so much time together. More so than with family members or in these two cases more than they do with their fiancé’s. It just happens to be that way if you want to be great and have super successful years.

But more than the time spent together is that they love each other like real brothers. It's very mutual. When I finished talking to them after the OTA on June 1st they both went in to shower, dress and then eat...a lot.

They both came outside together with their plate of food to watch the rookies continue to work after the veterans were allowed to depart.

But as I said I would, I went back and watched their playoff performances in wins vs. the Giants and the 49ers.

They play so well together and when they get opportunities to double team defensive tackles they can move the biggest and most powerful of bodies and they do it with big smiles on their faces. It's like a John Deere Tractor pushing contest..

I remember when I came to the Eagles in 1992. The defense was the NFL's very best. Soon after my arrival there was an injury to the left guard and I took over at left guard playing next to left tackle, Ron Heller.

Landon Dickerson (69) and Jordan Mailata (68) have formed a bond that goes beyond their battles together on the field. Photo by Andy Lewis

I knew who Ron was as we grew up not far from one another. I also knew that he was a NY State heavyweight wrestling champ and predicated a big part of his game on grabbing guys with strong mitts and using wrestling-like leverage to control his opponent.

He was tough as they come and funny as they come.

It didn’t take long for us to form a strong bond.

I loved playing next to Heller. I sat next to him in meetings. We walked on and off the field together. We joked in the huddle, we played with confidence and I felt a brotherhood with Heller almost immediately.

We beat the Washington team at the VET to win the NFC EAST in '92.

We would go into New Orleans for wildcard weekend and the Dome was as loud as I ever heard it. Our communication amongst all the O-LINE that afternoon had to be flawless and nonverbal as I never heard one snap count of QB Randall Cunningham all day. The victory that day was as sweet as any game I ever remember.

Heller and the strength of our left side was a big part of that playoff success.

I only mention that story from 30 years ago to try and equate what Dickerson and Mailata are forming.

They are infinitely more talented than Heller and I, but the way they have bonded is relevant. When you go into Dallas, or into KC on Monday Night Football this year you wanna exit the tunnel with your brother that has your back all day long regardless of the situation.

It's paramount to snatching victories from the jaws of defeat. These two young lineman have the right mentality to battle together and I think their best football is yet to come.

I know the aged vets on the line like Kelce and Lane Johnson that they feed off the energy and the destruction that Dickerson and Mailata love to create.

The game of football has undergone many changes, most are necessary to try and make the game safer.

But what has remained the same is the team who wins the battles in the trenches usually comes out on top.

Dickerson and Mailata might be the league's best as to how they move big people to create running lanes for a variety of backs.

But just as cool is the bond and the relationship they have formed in a short amount of time.

I personally can’t wait to watch this brotherhood go to battle every week in 2023-24!

Power to the big and powerful! *

Custom_183: Landon Dickerson (69) and Jordan Mailata (68) have formed a bond that goes beyond their battles together on the field. Photo by Andy Lewis

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