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  • Writer's pictureAl Thompson

FLETCHER COX WALKS AWAY FROM HIS INCREDIBLE CAREER WITH A LEGACY FOR THE AGES

 

Fletcher Cox will be remembered for all time by Eagles fans. Photo by Andy Lewis.

It happens with every sports team that wins a championship, regardless of the sport, level of play, men or women.


When the celebration is taking place after the win, the coach or team captain will tell everyone to remember who is in the room that day, because teams change every season.


The Eagles 2017/18 Super Bowl roster is down to just four players: Kicker Jake Elliott, LS Rick Lovato, defensive end Brandon Graham and tackle Lane Johnson.


At the beginning of April, legendary defensive tackle Fletcher Cox hung up his cleats.

Cox was infinitely more composed than center Jason Kelce to say the least.


But there was no doubt this was a tough day for the 33-year-old.


The Pro Bowl defensive tackle clearly brought a larger family contingent than Kelce to the press conference. It was truly a family affair for him.


Fletcher Cox tackles Kansas City Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco in Super Bowl LVII. Photo by Andy Lewis

Cox methodically went through his thank you mentions that covered family, teammates, high school and college coaches and those who were part of his life at the NovaCare Complex.      


“Being in the City of Philadelphia changed my life, my family’s life and everybody around me,” Cox said at his retirement press conference. “Howie Roseman is a big part of my success also…trading up spots to draft me. Coach Wash (Jim Washburn)  was in his ear during the whole draft process telling Howie how bad he wanted me to be an Eagle and how bad he wanted to coach me. Howie…thank you for that.”


Cox cleanly made it through all the names and departments at the Eagles compound that he has spent the last 12 years calling his workplace.


Cox was a big part of bringing relevant football to Eagles Nation for over a decade, including two trips to the Super Bowl and one Lombardi Trophy.


Then Cox talked about the City and the media corps that covers the Birds.  


“To the City of Philadelphia, it’s been important…we all knew this day would come,” said Cox, who finally showed his emotional side. “The City of Philly is tough to play for…playing in Philly you have to have thick skin, especially being drafted in the first round.


“So to the City of Philadelphia, I thank you a whole lot. I see a bunch of faces right here in the media. You guys have a job to do. Y’all have always done that in a respectful way. That’s the most important part.


“When you are a good player, it really doesn’t matter who you are…good or bad...the media here…it’s tough. They can be good to you sometimes and you always respect that.”




Fletcher Cox speaks at his retirement press conference on April 9, 2024. Photo by Al Thompson

He finished the segment looking at the assembled group of reporters with, “I appreciate you guys as much as anyone else…because without you guys, a lot of the fans wouldn’t know half the inside stuff that goes on in the locker room, and other parts of the season.”


Cox wanted to talk specifically about his teammate Derek Barnett, the former first round draft pick whose recovery of Tom Brady’s fumble helped seal the first and only Super Bowl win in franchise history.


“The reason Derek Barnett has a special place in my heart is because Derek and I share the same story,” Cox said fondly. “We often talk about the story. You can’t thank him enough because two guys right beside each other in the locker room, sharing the same stories…has always been a part of what I never thought I have in a teammate…..Derek.”


Cox would go on to reveal what that common story was between them.


"Early in my career, my brother passed away. And early in Derek's career, his brother passed away," Cox recalled. "So I was there for Derek, to lean on his shoulder to tell him that I knew what he was going through. To let him know that no matter when anyone says it's going to get better, it don't. And just me giving him those few words and the encouragement of just being there for him always. And he trusted me knowing that I had already been through that and that's why we have so much respect for each other."


Cox sounded like he wanted to tell Eagles Nation this story, but waited until he was leaving to share it.


Cox said his brother Shaddrick passed away in 2015 from a heart attack at the age of 34.


"I'm doing everything he'd want me to do," said Cox, who couldn’t hide his emotions. "Do it in the way that he would want me to have the entire family here. ... He's tattooed on my forearm so he's always with me. I know he's appreciating it and he's probably got his chest stuck out right now over how proud he is of his little-big brother."


The question was raised about whether Cox has a shot at the NFL Hall of Fame.

After 12 NFL seasons, Cox recorded 348 tackles, 69.5 sacks and 16 forced fumbles. 


He scored three times after recovering a fumble.


Some observers claim it’s not enough. Cox hopes he gets consideration; he was realistic about his chances.


“I’ve got to get into the Eagles Hall of Fame first, so that might help,” Cox said. “It’s something I think about, but it’s all in somebody else’s hands right now. But hopefully one day, a few years from now, I’ll be putting on a gold jacket. I’d be looking forward to it.”


All Eagles fans care about is that final play on February 4, 2018 when Cox knocked Brady to the ground on the final play of the game and Super Bowl XXXIX was theirs forever.


Cox will be at the center of Eagles’ fans' love and appreciation for all time, gold jacket or not. *

 

Email Al Thompson at al.thompson@footballstories.com

 

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